Online seminar. Partnership of Ukraine and African countries in agriculture: conceptual trends and business view

11 October 2023

On July 19, 2023, the Center for Food and Land Use Research at the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE Agrocenter) and the Trend and Hedge Club association organized the seminar «Partnership of Ukraine and African countries in agriculture: conceptual trends and business view».

At the beginning of the seminar, Mariia Bogonos, head of KSE Agrocenter, pointed out the perspective of cooperation between Ukraine and African countries in agriculture. The need for such a partnership is exacerbated by challenges to Ukraine’s grain exports in the wartime on the one hand and, at the same time, growing food demand on the African continent.

According to Pavlo Martyshev, a researcher at KSE Agrocenter, the physical volumes of agricultural exports from Ukraine to African countries have shown a slow decline over the past decade. More than 90% of the export value was grain and vegetable oils. In terms of demand, North Africa, in particular Egypt, remains the main region for the import of Ukrainian agricultural products. At the same time, African countries are the main supplier of certain types of products to Ukraine (in particular, tobacco and cocoa beans). In general, bilateral trade between Ukraine and African countries strongly depends on the level of diplomatic relations.

Monika Tothova, an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), indicated that the level of malnutrition on the African continent increased in 2022, in contrast to countries in Asia and Latin America. The countries of central and eastern Africa remain the most vulnerable. The fall in world food prices in 2023 gives hope for a gradual decrease in the level of hunger in these countries.

According to Olga Trofimtseva, ex-ambassador for special affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic relations are the foundation of successful food trade between Ukraine and African countries. At the same time, Russian narratives regarding the food crisis were pointed out, with the help of which the Russian Federation strengthens its influence in the countries of the Global South, in particular in Africa.

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, presented the current volumes and structure of food trade in Africa, as well as forecasts for supply-demand balances for the main products up to 2028. The local demand for imported food will grow in almost all product categories. In his opinion, the simplification of trade regimes between African countries, in particular within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), will stimulate additional demand for Ukrainian food due to its re-export within the continent.

At the end of the seminar, Gennadiy Ivanov, director of the shipping company BPG Shipping, spoke about the peculiarities of transporting agricultural goods to African countries. In particular, the specifications of transportation to the ports of Egypt, Libya, Kenya, Yemen, Djibouti, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Tanzania, and Nigeria were considered.

In general, the seminar formed a vision of the format of future cooperation of Ukraine with African countries related to food security and agricultural development. The materials of the seminar will be used for the further work of the KSE Agrocenter as part of the project to strengthen partnership with African countries.