Russia says not to blame for rising global food prices

Thursday June 30 2022
Andrey Avetisyan

Russia’s ambassador to Tanzania Andrey Avetisyan addresses journalists at a conference in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday. PHOTO | SUNDAY GEORGE

By Bethsheba Wambura

Dar es Salaam. Russia reiterated on Tuesday that it was in no way to blame for a rise in global food prices and an imminent global catastrophe, with the country’s ambassador to Tanzania, saying the situation was squarely a result of sanctions by Western countries on his country.

Mr Andrey Avetisyan said in Dar es Salaam that with the sanctions, which emerged after Russia started its military operation in Ukraine, the country could not export food and supply energy across the global market.

He said prices started rising since 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic and that the situation was merely exacerbated by western countries’ sanctions on his country.

“My country is ready to continue to supply food and fuel to any market in the world especially in African countries where Russia and Ukraine normally supply about 40 percent of wheat needs. However, with the sanctions, this has become difficult,” he said.

It is Russia’s view that the current state of affairs in the global economy would be enough to understand that the US and EU sanction policy poses a deadly threat to food security in developing countries.

A number of countries across the world, including most African countries, have been excluded from the global wheat and fertilizer markets while some were being forced to choose between buying Russian products or being reprimanded by the West. The financial restrictions, which are part of the US-led sanctions against Russia, have made it impossible to transfer payments to the exporter through bank transactions.

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Russia and Ukraine export nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley. They also supply more than 70 percent of its (the world’s) sunflower oil. They are also big suppliers of corn.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects that up to 181 million people in 41 countries could face a food crisis or worse levels of hunger this year.

“Russia is ready to continue to supply food and energy to the world. We have no problem with that but the sanctions that the Western countries have put are affecting exportation of such goods,” said Mr Avetisyan. He added: “This year Russia is expected to supply 37 million tonnes of grains and this signify an increase of more than 50 percent compared to what being supplied in the past.”

Mr Avetisyan said his country was aware that Africa was the most insecure continent in terms of food, saying it was ready to cooperate with Tanzania and other African countries on ways of overcoming the challenges.

Regarding the cooperation between Russia and Tanzania, he said his country has plans to bolster bilateral relations and expand trade for the mutual benefits of the two countries.

He said Russia is supporting Tanzania as President Samia Suluhu Hassan has shown her plans of opening up the doors for attracting foreign investment.

In that matter, his country is ready to grab in the sectors of food production, energy and agriculture. “Also expanding media exchange on the opportunities available in Russia for Tanzanians to seize.”

The envoy said he came to Tanzania a month ago and has seen that the country has a lot of opportunities especially in the agriculture sector and since Russia is the top global fertilizer.

“Russia intends to boost bilateral relations with Tanzania for bringing investors and to promote tourism for Russians to come visit Tanzania,” he said.