Ukrainian Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Mykola Solskyi with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
The Government of Ukraine has expressed its readiness to establish grain hubs in Nigeria and other African countries.
Ukrainian Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Mykola Solskyi made the pledge in Abuja after announcing his country’s donation of about 25,000 tonnes of grains to Nigeria to “boost bilateral ties”.
Mr Solskyi was at the head of a delegation from Kyiv that met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
Mr Solskyi said the grains would arrive in Nigeria in February under the initiative called “Grains from Ukraine”.
He said despite the 11-month-long war with Russia, the Ukrainian food industry wanted to have “closer relations” with Nigeria, adding: “We are very thankful to you that your country is ready to develop the relations“.
“Despite all the events going on in the world,” he continued, “our countries are ready to develop this cooperation.
“The Ukrainian government and Ukrainian president are ready to pay a lot of attention to this development. We want to have regular contact every year, not only with our agriculture ministers but with other ministers as well.
“Development of such hubs will make it possible to bring in high-quality grains into your country and it will influence prices positively.
“Ukraine intends to develop two or three hubs in Africa and taking into consideration the capacity of your country, the grain hub in your country is priority number one. If we implement it well, it would be a practical step towards our business relations reaching a new level.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who empathized with Ukraine over its ongoing war with Russia, also lauded Kyiv for the grain donation, pointing out that the gesture was coming even when the country was still at war.
He thanked Ukraine for extending its support to Nigeria and other African countries despite the current situation in that Eastern European nation.
“Notwithstanding the situation in which your country finds itself, you are able to extend a hand of friendship, not just to Nigeria but to other African countries,” Mr Onyeama said in commendation.
“This demonstrates superhuman courage and we really admire your generosity and we thank you for this support,” he said.
Mr Onyeama noted that Nigeria had long-standing relations with Ukraine, but decried the fact that some of the victims of the Russia-Ukraine War consist a large number of Nigerian students, whose studies have been disrupted by the conflict.
Also speaking during the meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar, said Nigeria was “willing and ready” to provide the appropriate ports for the grain hub.
“We appreciate and commend you that despite the war you still found time to extend a gesture of friendship to Nigeria and also donated grains,” he said.
“We have been having businesses with Ukraine, especially in the agriculture sector and I can say that over 30% of our agricultural businesses are with Ukraine, particularly in the area of wheat, fertilizer, and other grains. This I can assure you will continue to improve our relations,” the Minister added.
Fielding questions from reporters afterwards, Mr Abubakar said the purpose of the grain hubs was to have a centre where Ukraine would be bringing grains and “we would be helping other African countries”.
He said the hubs would be useful in emergency situations and could also be used to donate grains to other countries.
Ukraine has the technology and know-how to help Nigeria in wheat production, Mr Abubakar said, stressing that “capacity building” would be part of the relations which would produce a “win-win situation”.
Writing by Abdullahi Lamino; Editing by Tony Okerafor