Embattled Ukraine donates grains to Nigeria amidst food price hikes

The contribution is part of Ukraine’s humanitarian “Grain from Ukraine” initiative launched by the country’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Photo: L-R: Cynthia Rowe, British High Commission Development Director; representative from the Ministry of Agriculture; and Ukraine’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Kholostenko Ivan, during the event at the WFP Office, on Thursday, in Abuja.
Embattled, ukraine, donation, grains, nigeria,  food price hikes
Photo: l-r: cynthia rowe, british high commission development director; representative from the ministry of agriculture; and ukraine’s ambassador to nigeria, kholostenko ivan, during the event at the wfp office, on thursday, in abuja.

In an extraordinary move, the Government of Ukraine, which has been mired in a war with Russia, has donated 25,000 tonnes of wheat as emergency food assistance to 1.3 million vulnerable, crisis-affected people in northeast Nigeria amidst rising inflation and food price hikes in the country.

This is contained in a statement issued by Atinuke Akande-Alegbe, Senior Communications and Public Diplomacy Officer, British High Commission’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday.


Akande-Alegbe said that the donation was made under the auspices of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP)response in northeast Nigeria.


She explained that the contribution was part of Ukraine’s humanitarian “Grain from Ukraine” initiative launched by the country’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky.


Akande-Alegbe disclosed that the shipment was done through a collaborative effort from the UK, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Republic of Korea and Sweden, who transported it from Ukraine to Nigeria.

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According to the High Commission’s spokesperson, the grains intervention was informed by the soaring prices of staple food in Nigeria, which have pushed basic meals out of the reach of millions of vulnerable families across the country.


“This is a really tough time for many people across the world, including in Nigeria, it is important that we help the most vulnerable populations.


“The UK is proud to be part of the global community supporting WFP to distribute lifesaving grain across Nigeria, reaching over 600,000 people.


“This contribution will go some way to addressing rising food insecurity, driven by conflict and regional instability. We continue to back measures that help reduce its impact in Nigeria, support livelihoods and promote peace.”


“Deadly conflicts and persistent violence in northeast Nigeria have driven millions of people out of their homes, off their farms and across the region, jeopardizing agriculture and livelihoods production,” the statement quoted Cynthia Rowe, British High Commission Development Director as saying.


Rowe also noted that over the past three months, unlike in previous years, prices of key staples across several markets in Nigeria increased above pre-harvest levels hampering food access for vulnerable families who depended on harvest and markets for their supplies.


“In Maiduguri, for example, the wholesale prices of red beans have increased by 210 percent compared to the same period last year (February 2023). Similarly, prices of maize and sorghum increased by 176 percent and 188 percent respectively.


“The country is also grappling with its fourth consecutive year of chronic food insecurity with 26.5 million people across the country projected to face acute hunger during the 2024 lean season between June and August according to the November 2023 Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis.


“WFP is committed to working with the government and partners to build more resilient, inclusive, and effective food systems taking advantage of its current footprint in the country,” Rowe further said.

She also said that through its “
Out of Conflict into Solutions” food systems approach, WFP seeks to prioritize emergency food assistance to the most vulnerable groups while simultaneously supporting self-reliance by rebuilding assets to improve long-term food security and resilience.


These, according to the Development Director, include adaptation to climate change, providing timely access to nutritious food, and promoting innovative financing to support WFP operations.


She said that in 2023, WFP invested 200 million dollars in agricultural economy through locally purchased food and cash transfers to crisis-affected families for food redemption in local markets.


Also ommenting on the gesture, David Stevenson, WFP Representative and Country Director in Nigeria, expressed the organization’s appreciation to the Ukrainian government for the donation.


“We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Government of Ukraine, partners, and donors for their unwavering support through the Grain from Ukraine Initiative. This collaborative effort plays a crucial role in alleviating suffering and maintaining human dignity in areas facing conflict and food price increase.


“As part of WFP’s ongoing humanitarian operations, the wheat donation will be combined with cash and other commodities to meet the basic food and nutrition needs of crisis-affected women, men and children for a two-month period.


“WFP has the tools and willingness to support the government in restoring and unlocking the agricultural potential of northeast Nigeria making it again the breadbasket of the country. But we cannot achieve this alone.”


Stevenson added that collective action was needed to bring peace and stability, ensure stable markets, encourage financial investments, and generate employment “through enhanced collaboration with Nigerian private sector partners, suppliers, transporters, service providers, and retailers.”


“To ensure continued food and nutrition assistance to crisis-affected people in northeast and northwest Nigeria, WFP urgently requires US$154 million for the next six months (March-August 2024),” he added.