South Africa is by far the largest source of food purchases by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for relief food supplies in Africa, but Zambia is also a significant supplier. By far the largest proportions of these supplies are maize and soy.
George Geglia, manager of the WFP in the region, says the WFP worldwide feeds 800m people a year, but it generally only supplies basic foods.
In chronic situations in Africa, the food supplied is primarily maize and maize-soy blends. However, in some short term emergencies like Lebanon, it will for instance provide canned foods.
Last year Geglia’s office, located in Sandton, South Africa, spent $113m, of which $98m was on food and the rest was on trucks and other requirements.
That food totalled 507,974t, of which 77% was maize, because people prefer to grind it themselves, he says; 11% was maize meal; and 7% was blended maize-soy.
$62m was spent in South Africa; Zambia was the next largest supplier at $17m.
He says when there is no emergency in the region, the biggest problem is HIV-Aids, and for that, protein feed is required in the form of maize-soy or pulses.
Maize-soy is 80% maize meal and 20% extruded soy; it is then fortified with micronutrients. Maize-soy blends are always used in school feeding schemes.
For blends it generally does not matter whether the maize is white or yellow because the final powder is yellow.
Says Geglia: "The aim of the WFP is to save lives, reduce the impact of disasters, promote recoveries and support economies,"
The WFP office in Sandton organises supplies for projects ranging from Angola to Zimbabwe in southern Africa, but also buys for, for instance, West Africa and Sudan.
"The food which WFP buys is not high-tech. But a problem for factories is that our requirements might soar, then stop soon thereafter because donors are not donating. For the purposes of supplying a short term order, a plant needs to be big, but it may not be required to produce for some time thereafter. It needs to be flexible." The WFP sometimes provides some funding in anticipation of donor funding in order to smooth production requirements. "But it cannot oversmooth – so do not over-invest in plant," says Geglia.
Another factor is that plants generally must be up to EU standards and have HACCP (a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system). Gegelia says the WFP has CDs showing how to comply to HACCP.
He says the WFP always buys non-genetically modified (non-GM) maize because governments generally have a problem with GM maize – not for food reasons but because they fear for the integrity of their seed pools. This obviously does not apply where maize meal is used.
Regarding how to do business with the WFP, he says that companies must participate in tenders; accordingly, they must register to be either local or international tenderers. For this they need to know the requirements of the WFP. Tenders are assessed on the basis of where the product is going to.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, Contact Mr George Geglia, Tel: +27-11-5171684; firstname.lastname@example.org