The United States says it will continue to support Ghana to become self-sufficient in food production in the wake of global fertiliser shortage occasioned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dr Jim Barnardt, Assistant to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, told journalists at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 that the Agency would continue to work with its partners to build the capacities of smallholder farmers on the continent.
He was responding to a question on measures that should be adopted by Ghana to cushion itself against elements that affect access to key commodities as well and ensure food security.
The meeting discussed the impact of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine on food security in Africa and around the world.
“We need to continue to work with our partner countries, US Government, and other international partners in the UN system to help them develop the capacity for production of these inputs so that you have some self-sufficiency.” Dr Barnardt said.
He added that: “We must still allow for the global markets to flourish and I think the idea of trade is incredibly important that we continue to maintain, but also build that capacity so that Ghana has the ability to withstand certain shocks.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the world has been experiencing crop shortages and the rising prices of food, fuel, and fertiliser.
Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. Russia on the other hand produces large quantities of nutrients, such as potash and phosphate – essential fertiliser ingredients.
It estimated that Ghana imports 30 per cent of its wheat flour and fertilizer from Russia. The country also sources 60 per cent of its iron rods imports and other metal sheets from Ukraine.
Some analysts have cautioned that the ongoing war, if not resolved forthwith, could disrupt global food supplies, and trigger global food insecurity.
Madam Cindy H. McCain, Permanent Representative of the U.S. Mission to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had led to far-reaching humanitarian crisis and had brought “a sharp focus” on food security.
She said the UN organisations and partners are working assiduously to respond to the crisis and save lives.
“As a government, we’ve invested heavily in resilience-building programmes and committed to provide more than $11 billion over the next five years to address food security and nutrition needs around the world,” she said.
According to the United Nations, between 720 and 811 million people went hungry in 2020 because of the pandemic, and the figure is expected to rise in 2022, with some countries still struggling to recover from the economic downturn.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has indicated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already led to port closures, the suspension of oilseed crushing operations and the introduction of export licensing requirements for some products in Ukraine.
“All of these could take a toll on the country’s exports of grains and vegetable oils in the months ahead. Much uncertainty also surrounds Russian export prospects, given sales difficulties that may arise as a result of economic sanctions imposed on the country,” the Organisation said in an Information Note published on March 25, 2022.
By Edward Acquah, GNA