22 November 2013
South Africa will on Friday transport its first consignment of maize to Lesotho, which has been experiencing a food crisis since July 2012.
Earlier this year, South Africa struck a deal with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to buy maize from the country’s smallholder farmers as part of a R180-million South African humanitarian donation to Lesotho.
“Friday’s consignment is the first of many that are planned for Lesotho. Several more trips will be made in January next year with maize from smallholder farmers from the Eastern Cape, the North West and Limpopo,” Department of Agriculture spokesperson Palesa Mokomele said this week.
Maize from the Zivuseni agricultural co-operative and the Ziyibane farming project milled at the Pride Milling plant in Nigel, in Gauteng, was packaged into 4 920 bags each weighing 25 kilograms and would be transported to Lesotho, Mokomele said.
Mokomele said Friday’s initiative was a joint venture with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the WFP and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Social Development.
“The WFP, which is an internationally recognised agency of the United Nations, will channel and distribute the maize meal to the school meals programme, health and nutrition activities in Lesotho,” Mokomele said.
Lesotho food crisis
In July 2012, Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane declared an emergency food crisis and formally requested support from development partners and the international community.
Following a meeting with President Jacob Zuma in October 2012, the South African government, through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, responded to the appeal with a donation of R180-million.
“One of the conditions of this agreement from the South African government’s side was that at least 40 percent of the white, non-GMO [genetically modified] maize must be purchased from smallholder farmers in South Africa,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said earlier this year.
“Our country’s aid will help provide up to 22 months of food security for 227 000 children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in Lesotho.”