Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema said Thursday his country is “well placed” to weather the global food crisis worsened by the war in Ukraine.
“As the world faces critical shortages of key agricultural produce, and as we witness the devastating effects of food insecurity in all our regions of Africa and beyond, Zambia is well placed,” Hichilema told the European Parliament in Brussels.
He added that Zambia, which is trying to get out from under a crushing debt load, “aims to be a major contributor” to the fight against food insecurity.
He stressed that Zambia and the European Union were cooperating on agricultural projects, but he called for more collaboration in that sector.
The West accuses Russia of blocking vital grain shipments from Ukraine in a bid to force climbdowns on sanctions over the war that are eviscerating its economy.
The European Union is especially keen to counter Russian claims that the sanctions are to blame for the food shortages that are keenly affecting parts of Africa.
This week, it pledged an additional 600 million euros ($630 million) to help African nations and other vulnerable states cope with the shortfalls, and to boost sustainable food production.
Hichilema, whose government inherited $17.3 billion in debt when he was elected last year, is working to restore battered relations with donors and restructure the load.
Zambia was Africa’s first country to default during the Covid pandemic.
In December Zambia won a $1.4-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund on promises of establishing budgetary stability.