The United Nations’ World Food Programe (WFP) has lamented the increasing cost of imported agricultural inputs for West African countries.
According to WFP, the situation could exacerbate food insecurity in a region already coping with the highest number of food insecure people during the post-harvest season since the Cadre Harmonisé food security assessments were introduced in 2014.
This was the crux of the two-day forum held in Dakar, capital of Senegal.
At the meeting, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in partnership with the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), WFP and the Senegalese Ministry of Economy, Plan and Cooperation, launched the annual forum of intergovernmental organisations from West Africa, to examine and address the impact of emerging risks and challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.
The socioeconomic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ripple effect of the conflict in Ukraine have led to increased costs of food, fuel, and agricultural inputs – particularly fertilizer – in the region according to the joint studies conducted by ECOWAS, UNECA, FAO and WFP.
These studies revealed that West African countries are highly dependent on food imports as the region spent $4.5 billion in 2019 on cereal imports. Dependence on wheat imports is particularly acute in Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and Benin, where just over half of the wheat consumed came from Russia.
This situation also posed a threat to the region due to the unprecedented rise in food prices witnessed in February-March 2022, with the FAO Food Price Index reaching its highest level on record in March 2022.
Through this forum, the United Nations would reinforce its partnership with ECOWAS and intergovernmental organisations to ensure that all parties would work together in a coordinated manner that is aligned with both the strategic priorities of sub-regional organisation as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).