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.