……..As manufacturers battle malnutrition through food fortification
By Victor Emeruwa
The war in Ukraine may soon have a spiral effect into Nigeria’s food market as shortages of some essential raw materials produced in both Russia and Ukraine may affect Nigeria staple food commodities, creating food shortages in the next three months.
Africa’s richest man and industrialist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said Nigeria might begin to experience some food shortages in wheat and maize unless government and manufacturers find a way to tackle the shortage.
Speaking at the 4thAnnual Nigeria Food Processing and Leadership Forum in Lagos, Dangote said because Ukraine and Russia are both leading producers of wheat in the world, there will be shortages of the commodity including maize and it’s by-products in Nigeria and around the world.
The Forum which was chaired by Dangote also had Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Mr. Bill Gates participating through video conferencing.
Dangote said: “There will be shortage of wheats and maize and a lot of products. As we speak now, Russia and Ukraine do almost 30 percent of the world’s production of potash and Urea. Phosphate has gone up, there will be scarcity of food because we won’t be able to access fertilizer.
“We won’t see the effect now but in the next two three months, even the US will not be able to grow same number of tonnage they did last year. We need to sit with the government to iron this out.”
Also, he said Nigeria must block the local producers of maize trying to export maize to earn foreign exchange, in order to protect local production. “You will start to see people exporting maize to earn foreign exchange and I think we need to stop that so that we don’t create shortage domestically and we need to grow more, it is about food security and it is very serious.”
Earlier, Boye Olusanya from Flour Mills Nigeria said the reality is that the Ukraine war would have an impact on food production in Nigeria because Russia and Ukraine are both number one and five in the production of wheat worldwide and the volume between the two countries amount to about one third of global production.
Olusanya said: “The reality is Russia and Ukraine are number one and five in wheat production and if you take that volume which is almost one third of the production in the world, there will be and impact on pricing and as of today prices have gone up.
“ It is something we need to sit down with government to talk about measures we can put in place to alleviate what is coming down the road and the impact is not just on wheat as Ukraine is one of the biggest producers of maize and it will have an impact on maize locally which is an alternative people can look to.
“We are looking at cross border traffic of maize, we will see more farmers moving maize out of the country and also fertilizer, if we don’t manage this well, there will be significant volume compression and the food that is sold. Most people are looking at one to two meals a day but we want to make sure these two meals are fortified.”