Zambia Holds Firm on
Rejected Ge-Tainted Food Aid

Kenya,Tanzania to sell maize to Zambia -

Reuters News Service
Story by Shapi Shacinda

ZAMBIA: August 22, 2002

LUSAKA - Zambian Finance Minister Emmanuel Kasonde said yesterday Kenya and
Tanzania had offered to sell white maize to his hungry country after it
rejected thousands of tonnes of genetically modified (GM) relief maize.

Kasonde did not say how much maize Kenya and Tanzania had offered for sale.
He did not discuss the pricing.

Zambia is among six southern African countries gripped by biting food
shortages caused by both drought and poor farm policies. Zambia and
Zimbabwe, which are among the worst affected by the shortages, reject GM
food aid.

"In partnership with the private sector, the government will explore the
possibilities of sourcing the maize from Kenya and Tanzania and in the
shortest possible timeframe will mobilise resources to ensure that the stock
is sourced from these two countries," Kasonde said in a statement.

"Business entities from Tanzania have offered to supply good quality natural
maize in good quantities in order to ease the problem the country is facing
as a result of the current shortage," Kasonde said in a statement.

"I am pleased with the offers because they will give us an opportunity to
identify cost-effective, in terms of purchase cost and haulage and delivery,
sources of maize in meeting our requirements," he said, adding that he saw
purchases from Kenya and Tanzania meeting all of Zambia's current
requirements. Kenya's High Commission in Lusaka confirmed that Kenya had a
maize surplus and was keen to sell to Zambia.

"We have been blessed with a good harvest for the past three consecutive
years and when a fellow African country is in problems, we must help. We
will help Zambia with natural food," Kenyan High Commissioner (ambassador)
in Lusaka Esther Mshai Tolleh told Reuters.

Zambia faces a maize deficit of 630,000 tonnes.

Capricious weather - a combination of drought and floods in key growing
areas - reduced Zambia's food production to 490,000 tonnes from 700,000
tonnes in the 2000/2001 season.

Drought in farming districts during the 2001/2002 season has further
stressed the Zambian maize market.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa declared a national hunger disaster in May,
saying up to four million people faced starvation.

Last month Mwanawasa said Zambia would not accept GM maize until it held its
own tests to determine whether it was safe for human consumption.

The WFP said last week it would divert 42,000 tonnes GM maize initially
destined for Zambia to other southern African countries faced with hunger if
the government refused to accept it.

The U.S. similarly said it would divert 27,600 tonnes of GM maize to other
countries if Zambia declined to take it.

Of southern African countries facing food shortages, Malawi, Mozambique and
Lesotho unconditionally accept GM maize, according to U.S. and relief
agencies in the region.

Last week, Kasonde had told local media that he was looking to import
400,000 tonnes of maize from South Africa.

Story by Shapi Shacinda



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