If Russia keeps to the deal it has signed with Ukraine allowing for the resumption of grain exports, much-needed relief will be provided to importing countries, including many in Africa.
Russia agreed not to attack Ukrainian grain vessels, which could restore the grain trade in the Black Sea region. The deal was a multinational effort to avert the global food crisis and will likely contribute positively to grain supplies. The immediate benefit should be through softening of grain prices, although possibly marginal.
The obstacles faced by the SA wool and citrus industries illustrate growing protectionism across the world and a strong need for the SA government to actively assist in preserving these export routes. The threats to agribusinesses are severe, in a country that has flagged agriculture as a critical industry for economic growth and job creation.
The cost of living is rising and everyone is feeling the impact. Some are asking why SA exports food when millions live in poverty and prices are surging. Why not cater for South Africans first and block exports? Do we have sufficient food for ourselves before worrying about the global consumer?
Recently we have seen how the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war destabilised global supply chains, with many countries looking inward for long-term security of supply. The pandemic and geopolitical friction have also increased protectionism, especially in the EU.
While farmers were able to manage the rising feed costs in the past two years to an extent, the current season has presented new challenges — a vast outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease as well as continued occurrences of swine flu and avian flu outbreaks.