In hungry region, S.African maize may feed Chinese chickens
Johannesburg (AFP) Sept 19, 2010
South Africa produces too much maize. Its neighbours not enough. But rather than feeding its neighbours, South Africa's surplus maize may feed Chinese chickens, due to regional worries about genetically modified crops.
South African farmers grew 13 million tonnes of maize in the harvest that ended around May. That included a surplus of four million tonnes, an excess that has pushed down prizes and threatens to bankrupt 10,000 farmers.
"The industry was not prepared for what happened. The surplus was causing panic. Over-production is not a sustainable way of producing," said Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety.
Most of South Africa's neighbours had bumper harvests as well, driving down demand.
But even countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, which suffer chronic food shortages, refuse to accept South African maize because of worries about importing genetically modified organisms.
South Africa began planting genetically modified crops in the 1990s, and now they account for 57 percent of all maize planted in the country. Often the harvests are mixed together at mills, so that importers consider all maize as genetically modified (GM).
"Even some countries who don't have proper biosafety laws have a ban on GM, like Zimbabwe," Mayet said.
South Africa's surplus "has to go to special markets. Countries for whom GM is not a problem," she added.
In April, Kenyan environmentalists blocked a shipment of 40,000 tonnes of South African maize at port in Mombasa.
Regional reticence has left South Africa searching farther afield for a buyer, with China a leading candidate.
The government earlier this month sent a delegation to China to discuss selling the surplus, most likely as feed to chicken farmers.
"The negotiations will become formal hopefully in October, when a Chinese delegation will come to South Africa," agriculture ministry adviser Ramse Madote said after returning from the trip.
Neither the proposed price nor the terms of the sale have been made public, but farmers fear that they'll get a low price because the Chinese know South Africa won't get better offers.
"The terms being negotiated with China are bound to reflect South Africa's lack of alternative options," said Philip White of the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, an anti-poverty group.
It's a painful paradox in a region where millions of people will require emergency food aid.
"Even in a relatively plentiful year like this one, significant numbers of people continue to face hunger and many end up needing emergency assistance," White said.
About 1.7 million people in Zimbabwe, 500,000 in Malawi, and 250,000 in Mozambique will need food aid this year, according to the UN World Food Programme.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
Libreville (AFP) Sept 17, 2010
Non-governmental organisations have called for a biodiversity centre to be set up in Africa to study species and control their exploitation, on the sidelines of a pan-African ministerial meeting. "On behalf of civil society, we insisted on the establishment of a regional African centre on biodiversity" when experts met in Gabon from Monday to Wednesday, ahead of the ministerial conference, N ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|