January 7, 2003

ZAMBIA: WFP moves GM food to Malawi

The World Food Programme (WFP) is moving the Genetically Modified food from Zambia to Malawi, the Southern Africa complex food security crisis situation report by the USAID has revealed.

The report dated January 3, 2003 states that the WFP continues to move biotech food commodities from Zambia to Malawi following Zambian government's successful rejection of the biotech food assistance.

"Mozambique and Malawi have expressed concerns over the environmental effects of biotech food, but are accepting such food assistance as long as it is milled before distribution," the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) stated. "However, the government of Malawi has publicly stated its intention not to disrupt the distribution of humanitarian corn if milling is not possible."

The report stated that December maize prices in Zambia averaged between US $240 and US $260 per metric tonne, three times more than the highest recorded maize prices in 2000 and 2001. "Prices are likely to continue to increase as a result of the limited prospects for commercial imports in early 2003. However, WFP expects the pipeline for January and February to be relatively strong.

WFP estimates that 79,676 metric tonnes of cereals will arrive during these two months," the report said. The report stated that from the beginning of 2002 to date, the US government has provided or pledged more than US $278 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the food security crisis. The report stated that in the fiscal year 2002, USAID and Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) provided more than US $10 million in non-food programs that were currently underway in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Lesotho. On the latest shipment of US food assistance to the region, the report stated that to date, the US government has delivered over 400,000 metric tonnes of food to the region.

"The balance of approximately 100,000 metric tonnes will arrive in the region by the end of February. The Magna Energy, with 15,000 metric tonnes of bulk sorghum, recently arrived in Dar es Salaam. WFP will receive 5,000 metric tonnes of this cargo," the USAID stated. "The remaining 10,000 metric tonnes will be given to the NGO consortium, C-SAFE." The entire tonnage has been allocated for Zambia." The report stated that this year, however, regional stocks were exceptionally low, as they were drawn down to fill the previous year's food shortages, and surplus commodities within the region were limited. USAID is also sponsoring a SADC regional workshop on biotech and food insecurity in Gaborone, Botswana, in February 2003. Participants would include technical experts from around the world and policy makers from the affected countries. The meeting will address the technical and policy issues related to biotech food assistance. (The Post, Lusaka)

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