Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appointed former president Joyce Banda as one of the three grain ambassadors to champion his plan to help African countries facing acute food shortages.
Information sourced from Ukraine government’s official website shows that the plan is only an extension of Zelenskyy’s Grain from Ukraine Programme meant to help countries facing acute food shortages.
Appointed grain ambassador: Banda
In a meeting on Thursday last week with the programmes working group, where Banda was announced, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said the prevailing reports of acute food shortages in Africa prompted President Zelenskyy to see the prospect of expanding the project.
He added that to achieve that, Ukraine, referred to as the ‘breadbasket of the world,’ needed reliable partners with local knowledge and extensive connections such as ex-president Banda.
The other two ambassadors are Cameroon-born democracy advocate Christopher Fomuyoh and Nigeria’s former education minister Oby Ezekwesili.
According to Yermak, since the launch of the Grain from Ukraine Programme in November 2022, more than 30 donor countries have joined it.
These are the European Union (EU) countries as well as Qatar, Japan, Norway, Korea, Canada and the United States of America. So far, he added, participants have pledged nearly $200 million (about K200 billion).
“The goal is to provide grain to at least 5 million people by the end of this spring. And this is just the beginning of a global humanitarian corridor for countries facing the threat of famine,” he said.
Ukraine is one of the world’s grain producers and, together with Russia export nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley, more than 70 percent of its sunflower oil and are big producers of corn.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation projects up to 181 million people in 41 countries could face a food crisis or worse levels of hunger this year because of the continued Russia-Ukraine War.
Asked on Tuesday on her appointment and whether Malawi will be among the beneficiaries, Banda’s personal assistant Arnold Mlelemba could neither confirm nor deny, but rather said: “She is yet to get an official communication on the appointment. Until that time, she cannot respond to any question to that effect.”
The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee projected that 3.8 million people in Malawi will face hunger between November 2022 and March 2023.
In response to the report, the government, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs rolled out the 2022-23 lean season response programme, an exercise that will cost K74 billion.