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The central European country, Poland, which is being directly affected by the crisis in Ukraine, after Moscow banned all food imports from the EU, the US, and other countries who imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, is assessing a new export destination for getting its agricultural products to Africa.
The conflict in Ukraine that started in the beginning of last year has created a confrontation between Russia and the Western world.
Poland is one of the victims from the ban that Moscow imposed. Since late August this year Polish agricultural products mainly fruits and vegetables have been banned from entering the Russian market.
Prior to the full embargo on food exports from the West, Russia’s agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor banned the import of practically all fruits and vegetables from Poland, citing a breach of food safety standards.
Officials in Poland said that the government wants to expand its exports to other countries like Africa, which does not import a significant amount of products from Poland.
Officials at the Ministry of Economy of Poland told Ethiopian journalists that they are interested in expanding their export to Ethiopia and other African countries.
One product they potentially see doing well in Ethiopia is apples. Before the ban Poland was the major exporter of apples to Russia. Russia’s import ban on Polish fruit and vegetables will leave Poland with a big surplus of apples by the end of the year. Last year 677,000 tonnes of Polish apples went to Russia, accounting for 56 percent of Poland’s apple exports.
Poland is one of the world’s major apple producers and exporters. Recently it replaced China in global apple exports. The ban could cost Polish farmers USD 659 million, according to estimates by Poland’s ministry of agriculture.
But the current ban has forced them to seek other markets.
“We want to change our direction and boost the agricultural export market to other African countries,” the officials said.
They said that most African countries are importing Polish agricultural products indirectly. “Africans are using Polish apples imported from other countries,” experts said.
“The direct link has to be created to boost the market,” the experts said. “We want to export our product to the Ethiopian market,” officials at the ministry added.
The relationship of the two countries (Poland and Ethiopia) is not new although it has not historically been close. Recently the two countries have been working together to expand their relationship mainly in the economic sector. The Polish government has approved a USD 50 million soft loan for Ethiopia to support agricultural machine manufacturing.
The Polish Prime Minister is also expected to visit the country in the near future. The visit will be the first on this high delegation level. The number of Polish companies who want to invest in Ethiopia or create partnerships in the country, which was non-existent a few years ago, have also been consistently growing.