Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s main exporters of wheat, and a number of countries depend on these exports to feed their populations, especially North African countries such as Tunisia and Egypt. The recent war has demonstrated the fragility of food systems and the failure of the neoliberal policies that have been applied in North African region for decades. These policies, empowering multinational corporations and entering into free trade agreements between North African countries and large capitalist countries, have resulted in the neglect of local agricultural systems.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is now demonstrating what it means for countries to lose their food sovereignty, become dependent on external food supplies, and embrace capitalist trade and export oriented agriculture all while foreign markets grow increasingly volatile. Although we have not yet reached a famine in the North African region, it is clear that high prices for basic foodstuffs and food production inputs and the decline in ordinary consumers’ purchasing power can lead to malnutrition along with associated negative health and social consequences for people in the region.
This special issue of the North African Network for Food Sovereignty’s magazine Siyada sheds light on the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the food supply and agricultural systems of Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco. Produced together with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s North Africa Office and in coordination with a group of researchers and agricultural workers, it represents an attempt to construct a comprehensive overview of the food situation in North African countries as the war continues to rage.
The North African Network for Food Sovereignty (NANFS) brings together peasants’ organizations and grassroots associations, unions of farmers, agricultural workers, and fisherfolk, as well as social movements from the North African region. Since the founding of the NANFS in 2017, the network strives to achieve food sovereignty and climate and environmental justice in North Africa. NANFS play an important role in regional mobilizations given its contacts and networks in the countries of North Africa and West Asia. It also works on popular education through the publication of theoretical studies, reports, documentaries, and its online and print journal, Siyada.