December 4, 2002

ZAMBIA: Non genetically modified maize from Tanzania

Zambian Vice-President Enoch Kavindele says the Tanzanian government is willing to sell 200,000 tonnes of maize to Zambia to ease hunger.

Mr Kavindele said this on December 3at Lusaka International Airport on his return from Arusha in Tanzania where he attended a summit on the Burundi peace process. Briefing journalists, Mr Kavindele said that he took advantage of President Benjamin Mkapa's presence at the summit to bring up the hunger situation in Zambia. 'I brought the drought situation to the attention of the government of Tanzania, and President Mkapa said it was possible that Zambia can buy about 200,000 tonnes,' he said. Mr Kavindele noted however, that his office had bought about 34,000 tonnes from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in the interim while Government sought other avenues. He said Government was committed to ensuring that no Zambian starved to death.

In a separate development, it was reported that the European Union (EU) is reviewing the price of AIDS drugs and related medicines meant for export to Zambia and other Third World countries.

EU commissioner for trade Pascal Lamy said in Lusaka that most Zambians could not afford the subsidised medicines from Europe at their current prices. 'The drugs are very expensive and can not reach many people at the moment. In Europe anti-retroviral cocktails cost as much as 3,000 Euros but even if the price is reduced to 300 Euros here people will not afford,' Mr Lamy said in an interview. He said the EU was discussing the pricing of drugs and intended to start labelling subsidised drugs destined for poor countries so that they could not land back on the European market. He said the EU needed to negotiate with the patent owners of the drugs before cutting prices because it was not only the unit cost of making the drug that mattered. Mr Lamy said researchers spent a lot of money before coming up with formulas for the ARV cocktails and, therefore, needed to price the drugs to recover what they invested. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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