War-ravaged Ukraine donates grains to FG in battle against severe hunger, inflation

The contribution was part of Ukraine’s humanitarian ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative launched by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine 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 spikes.

This is contained in a statement by Atinuke Akande-Alegbe, spokeswoman for the British High Commission’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, on Friday.

The statement said the donation was made under the auspices of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) response in the North-East.

It explained that the contribution was part of Ukraine’s humanitarian ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative launched by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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

According to the statement, the grain intervention was informed by the soaring prices of staple food in Nigeria, pushing basic meals out of reach for millions of vulnerable families nationwide.

“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, jeopardising agriculture and livelihoods production,” said Cynthia Rowe, British High Commission development director.

Ms 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 per cent compared to the same period last year (February 2023). Similarly, prices of maise and sorghum increased by 176 per cent and 188 per cent, 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,” Ms Rowe added.

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

According to Ms Rowe, these include climate change adaptation, timely access to nutritious food, and promoting innovative financing to support WFP operations.

In 2023, WFP invested $200 million in the agricultural economy through locally purchased food and cash transfers to crisis-affected families for food redemption in local markets, Ms Rowe revealed.

Also commenting on the gesture, David Stevenson, WFP representative and country director in Nigeria, expressed the organisation’s appreciation to the Ukrainian government for the donation.

Mr Stevenson stated, “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.”

He added, “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.”

Mr Stevenson also mentioned 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.”

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


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