Bio-fuels and Food Aid: The Impact on Southern Africa

Report
from Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme
Published on 01 May 2007
The United States is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to have 35 billion gallons of fuel from renewable sources in the next ten years. At present, the majority of bio-fuel is ethanol, which is produced from corn. Concern has also been expressed about the diversion of corn to ethanol production and the possible impact that this will have on US exports as well as the amount available for food aid to developing countries. Currently, the US is the largest contributor of food aid in the world and provides most of its donations in-kind - the World Food Programme alone relies on the US for nearly 50% of its food aid donations. While it is still too early to judge what the exact impact will be on food aid supplies to southern Africa as a result of the increasing production of bio-fuels in the US, it is time for this issue to be considered by policy makers in the region with the aim of strengthening local food production. Greater self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal and would reduce dependency on food aid as well as imports.