By George Munene
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to further push up the price of fertilisers and foodstuffs in Kenya.
As a net fertiliser importer, taking in Sh4B worth of fertiliser from Russia in 2020, with the rest coming from the US, Ukraine, and China, Kenyan farmers are expected to be hard hit by disruption in production, rising gas prices and sanctions levied on Russia owing to its invasion of Ukraine. Russia, the world’s largest
Nitrogen fertiliser exporter had already prohibited the export of nitrogen fertilisers until April. The prices of Nitrogen-based fertiliser which make up 56% of total global consumption such as Urea (up 95% from last year), UAN32 (up 144%), UAN28 (up 146%), and anhydrous (up 181%) are expected to rise even further.
Russia and Ukraine are also major grain exporters making up about ⅓ of the global wheat export. According to UN Comtrade, Kenya imported Sh16B worth of wheat and Sh0.9B in maize from Russia 2020. From Ukraine, the country imported Sh1.8B in Soyabean, wheat, and maize worth Sh1B worth, Sh0.65B in vegetables, and a further Sh0.43B in sunflower seed and seed oil.
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The price of wheat and other grains has soared since Russia invaded its neighbor with major food makers such Nestle, Mondelēz, and Carlsberg suspending operations in their companies and warehouses sited in Ukraine.
The situation is expected to be even direr for heavy wheat-consuming countries in Africa that import from the warring nations. “The disruption of grain exports from Ukraine and Russia could possibly lead to physical food shortages, particularly in countries that typically buy from the two Eastern European countries impacting millions of people in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. These food shortages could have political consequences as food shortages often lead to uprisings,” elucidated Patrick Boyle, founder of UK-based hedge fund Palomar Capital Management.
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While other major grain producers could plant more grain to offset this shortage, that would be dependent on the availability and cost of fertilisers.