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‘Grain deal of no strategic importance for Africa’

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By Sputnik staff writer

The president of the Russian Grain Union Arkady Zlochevsky has said that the termination of the Black Sea Grain Deal will not affect African countries and assured that Russian grain supplies to African countries do not depend on the implementation of the deal.

The significance of the Black Sea Grain Deal for Africa has been exaggerated by the UN and other institutions and does not hold any strategic relevance for the continent, Yamb Ntimba, a Cameroonian economist, writer and philosopher, told Sputnik Africa.

According to the expert, cereals are consumed by less than a tenth of Africans, while the vast majority eat locally-grown food.

“The rhetoric of the UN, the World Food Programme and the FAO gives the impression that people in Africa sit on stones or sand dunes and don’t work. But this is not true!” Ntimba said. “Ninety percent of the African population eat yams, millet, sorghum, macabo, taro, potatoes, plantain. They don’t eat wheat; they don’t even know what it is. So, I think this UN rhetoric has to stop.”

The expert added that “the fact that the UN position expressed by the secretary-general is always discussed in advance with the Westerners is proof that this grain agreement is a big manipulation”.

In this vein, as the economist noted, Russia’s extension of the grain deal by almost half would play into the hands of the West.

Ntimba cited statistics, according to which 47 percent of grain under the deal went to European countries, 26 percent to countries with above-average incomes, 27 percent to the “so-called poor countries,” and the poorest countries received a mere 3 percent.

“And out of that 3 percent, Africa didn’t even get maybe half. So, I don’t really understand why people are making such a big deal of the fact that Russia needs to be pushed to renew this agreement,” the pundit stressed. “From Africa’s point of view, this agreement has no strategic importance whatsoever! None whatsoever!”

What is a strategic need for Africa, according to the expert, is the distribution of food across the continent, a challenge Russia can assist with. Such logistical projects include building trans-African roads, developing their ports and shipping capacities.

Grain Deal Failure

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the Black Sea Grain Deal will be terminated as of July 18.

The agreement was signed by Russia, Turkiye, Ukraine and the UN in July 2022 to provide a humanitarian sea corridor for ships exporting food and fertilisers from Ukrainian ports. As Moscow has repeatedly noted, the second part of the agreement – a three-year memorandum between Russia and the UN – was never implemented.

Answering Sputnik Africa’s question why the West did not fulfil its part of the agreement, Ntimba remarked that “they think they have every right and no duty towards others.”

According to the economist, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western countries have had no intention of normalising relations with Russia.

“Clearly, they have no desire to meet any of Russia’s conditions, because all the steps they’ve taken towards Russia since the 1990s have been to humiliate it, to skin it, to turn it into a banana republic, just as they did in Africa and South America,” the expert underlined.

Therefore, as Ntimba pointed out, to solve the problem once and for all today, it is necessary for Russia “not to renew this agreement, but to work with the Africans on a memorandum, an agenda that enables them to obtain supplies from Russia, and this is the only language that the West understands.”

Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the agreement on the grain deal was de facto cancelled, but Moscow will promptly return to its implementation after fulfilling Russia’s part of the conditions.

African Union Calls for Resumption of Grain, Fertiliser Supplies From Ukraine, Russia

By Sputnik staff writer

On Monday, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which provided for a humanitarian corridor to allow exports of Ukrainian grain over the past year, expired as Russia did not extend its participation. Moscow has been repeatedly critical of the fact that the deal’s provisions pertaining to Russia had not been fulfilled.

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat urged on Tuesday the parties to the grain deal to resume the supply of grain and fertilisers from Ukraine and Russia to Africa.

“I regret the suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for which the African Union had been an early advocate. I urge parties to resolve any issues to resume the continued safe passage of grains and fertiliser from Ukraine and Russia to where it is needed, particularly in Africa,” Mahamat said on Twitter.

The AU’s statement comes as on Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the grain deal was de facto terminated, however, Moscow would immediately return to its implementation as soon as the commitments toward Moscow are fulfilled.

On Tuesday, Peskov also revealed that Russia is now in contact with partners from Africa on the issue of grain and fertilisers supply and will continue the discussion during the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg later this month.

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations struck a package agreement to provide a humanitarian maritime corridor for ships carrying food and fertiliser from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on July 22, 2022.

Despite having since agreed to several extensions to the grain deal, Moscow has been pointing out that the deal’s component on the facilitation of Russian grain and fertiliser exports was not being fulfilled.

These articles were first published in Sputnik