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FMD Trip Report – Sep 2011

Traveler: Paul B. Green, NAMA International Trade Consultant, Washington, DC

Itinerary Johannesburg/Pretoria, South Africa September 21-23, 2011
Arusha, Tanzania, September 25-26, 2011
Nairobi, Kenya, September 27, 2011
Mombasa, Kenya, September 28, 2011
Rome, Italy, September 29, 2011

Purpose: To consult with food aid cooperating sponsors involved in food security issues in Africa and explore ways enhance the use of NAMA products in US food aid programs. Recent emergency operations in the horn of Africa are stretching PVO and WFP resources and logistics to provide adequate food in very difficult circumstances.  NAMA attempts to maintain dialogue with our food aid partners during such times and examine the opportunity for logistical, regulatory or other collaboration to assist partners in their objectives in the emergencies.

Topics to engage food aid partners on include:

  • Prepositioning as a method of increasing responsiveness in emergencies
  • Experience to date with prepo management- Pluses and Minuses
  • Biotechnology restrictions as hurdles to getting either whole grains or milled products to beneficiaries
  • Experiences with targeting Under 2 (U2s) children in both emergency and development settings
  • Experience with CSB++ as a supplemental feeding product targeting moderate malnourishment and comparability with lipid-based foods (plumpy nut, etc.)
  • Relative cost impacts of transportation/handling of small packages (2-5 kg bags) and possible options for family delivery when targeting small children
  • Status of donor commitments to Horn of Africa emergency and impact on response
Action Items:
NAMA staff and ITC members will continue to engage USAID and Tufts University in dialogue regarding the field testing of formulations recommended by the FAQR for use with children under 2.  We should reinforce WFP’s clear recommendation that the new formulation including animal protein should not stop the production and availability of blended-fortified foods with the current formulation. (It might be possible to harmonize the premix for the current CSB with WFP specs).

Paul will follow up with the ITC on engagement of USAID and Tufts University staff of the FAQR to discuss alternatives to small packs of reformulated CSB with whey powder.  If US food industries could assist in setting up blending/repackaging facilities closer to the recipients, while maintaining hygiene and shelf –life viability, we may find support from WFP and PVOs who want to promote value adding industries in local settings.  This would permit current efficiencies of manufacture, handling and shipping to continue, while still improving impact on specific at-risk targets and make NAMA a participant in global food security initiatives.

Paul will ask for a joint meeting with USAID and USDA to discuss strategies to address biotechnology barriers to movement of US food aid products to emergency destinations.  The expansion of these barriers to include milled products is an unjustifiable action that puts hungry people further at risk and needs to be addressed at high levels. While Kenya Government actions have recently been altered to allow individual processed products on a shipment by shipment basis, a more permanent solution and blanket acceptance of humanitarian cargoes is needed.

Paul will engage the AID management of prepo facilities to discuss insect infestation issues and the prospect of a collaborative effort between USAID, USDA, NAMA and the shipping industry to explore ways to prevent infestation and avoid repeated fumigations of milled grain products.


WFP’s South Africa Regional Office is acting as the procurement hub for the Horn of Africa emergency, primarily because traditionally, S. Africa has been the primary source of maize (corn) for the continent’s needs.  My meeting with the procurement officer provided a big surprise when Mr. Dehning advised me that they were no longer able to purchase maize in S. Africa for the Horn Crisis, due to the biotechnology (GMO) restrictions from the recipient and transit countries.  Since over 70% of the S. African corn crop is from biotech seeds, traders are no longer willing to make certification of non-GMO status.  This has forced WFP to seek corn supplies from Malawi and Uganda.  Sourcing from such landlocked countries is extraordinarily expensive and I pointed out that any certification of non-GMO from those countries was subject to great risk of being a false certification.The regional office also reiterated a discussion held in 2009 on the goals of both WFP’s Purchase for Progress and the US Administration’s Feed the Future LRP program.  It is the intention of both programs to promote development of local agriculture production through the purchase of the production of local farmers for use in food aid in the region.  WFP continues to acknowledge that this system is not capable of replacing any significant portion of their procurement needs and that when products procured go beyond whole grains and legumes, production quality and food safety issues become major hurdles to their ability to increase procurements.  Both WFP and USAID have indicated their interest in getting additional capacity building assistance from US food industry participants to assist in post-harvest activities with small scale processors.

This discussion led to the question of whether an alternative model to the FAQR suggestion of changing the formulation of US origin CSB to include animal protein might be to add animal protein and customize enrichment nearer the recipient.  The idea would be to customize US origin food aid products to change formulation, packaging and messaging near to distribution to the final user.  The known issues with such an idea would be hygiene and quality control, but perhaps US food industry expertise could be brought into the dialogue.  See Action Items

The plan for visiting Arusha included meeting a colleague from the Nutrition and Child Health office of the Bread for the World Institute (Bread) in Washington, DC, Mr. Scott Bleggi.  Scott and I intended to engage members of the Partnership for Food Solutions who are doing capacity building work with small and medium sized local millers to give them the ability to make higher quality and higher nutrition products for use among at-risk populations.  Unfortunately, though Scott and I were able to meet, due to scheduling conflicts, neither the PFS staff, their partners from Technoserve in Dar Es Salaam nor the local milling partners were able to meet with us in the limited one day window we had.  Therefore, we were unable to get new information regarding the implementation of enrichment and fortification project in Tanzania.  Scott was traveling on to Dar Es Salaam after Arusha and his report will be appended to this report, if he found relevant information.

Meanwhile, Scott and I were able to discuss the Bread study that is being financed by the Gates Foundation to report on linkages or lack thereof, between food security and development programs and nutrition objectives.  Mr. Bleggi had been in Ghana on this trip and was able to provide some cogent thoughts about the difficulty in getting nutrition objectives integrated into Feed the Future initiatives with any clarity or consistency.  He noted that nutrition, fortification, or targeting U2s is mostly an afterthought to the crop production increases that are the prime objectives of the FTF managers.

We noted the same issue related to integrating the FTF and food aid initiatives in the US AID Missions. The Food for Peace offices in the USAID Mission are not seen as part of the food security planning process.  Further, the international NGOs (PVOs) that are the constituents of FFP are not seen as the primary partners for FTF.  In fact, FTF claims that it intends to implement through ‘indigenous NGOs’ where capacity to manage large-scale grants are questionable. This creates the real issue of the intensiveness of FTF and questions of whether it is going to make sufficient progress to justify its long term funding intentions.  For example, the management issues related to managing 10 $50,000 grants is exponentially greater than for 1 $500,000 grant through an NGO that already knows the accountability and Monitoring and Evaluation requirements for taking on a US Govt. grant.

Many of the issues being dealt with by WFP in the East Africa region are logistical in nature- including biotechnology difficulties with transshipments through Kenyan ports, Best if Used By Dates (BUBD) and shelf life issues in prepositioning.

In 2009, the GOK established a new National Biosafety Authority (NBA) and they appear to be taking a ‘precautionary’ approach to GM products imported through Kenyan ports, even for reexport.  KPHIS, which has been managing import issues for the GOK, modeled after the US APHIS had made a distinction between bulk commodities that could propagate and processed products that couldn’t, but the KBA is apparently blurring such distinctions.  They have implemented regulations requiring preclearance of all shipments of food products, to assure that they have full food safety authorization in the country of origin.  This will be an unwieldy process and both the US Embassy and WFP have been working to assure the KBA implements their new authority in a trade-facilitating manner, including a ‘blanket’ exception for humanitarian aid shipments whose biotech content doesn’t change from shipment to shipment.

At the same time, the NBA is insisting that whole grain shipments not contain biotech events and be accompanied by a testing certificate to that effect. At the same time, WFP feels that the press is warming the population up for a more welcoming atmosphere to biotech food products, but it’s still going to be a long process.
Clearance of biotech food products in Mombasa warrants continued NAMA monitoring and an offer to collaborate between the private sector and public sector on a strategy to engage governments in a regional regulatory harmonization and trade facilitation. 

WFP is concerned about shipments of bagged commodities with different BUBD that can cause issues regarding product implementation.  Mombasa officials felt this is particularly difficult, as some containers contain as many as 3 separate BUBDs, with dates as far apart as 6-12 months.  This creates inventory management issues and difficulties with government officers in recipient countries.

I was hopeful of engaging WFP’s leading expert on product formulation, Bertrand Savingnol to discuss the prospect of using bulk shipments of CSB to specific local and regional sites where a modern blending facility might add further ingredients and package products for finer targeting.  Unfortunately, Bertrand wasn’t available at the last minute.  I did discuss several matters from the trip with Rashad Nelms from the donor relations’ office of WFP, but it will be necessary to engage Bertrand by phone or email to discuss this in more detail.    This topic will also be brought up with the Tufts University FAQR staff.

I had the opportunity to pay a short courtesy call with US Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome, Ertharin Cousin.  As in previous discussions with the Ambassador, she was familiar with the regulatory issues related to clearing food aid through Kenya due to biotechnology.  She and USAID Administrator, Raj Shah have plans to visit Nairobi in early October and the plan to engage the Kenyan Government about this issue at the highest levels.  Paul will follow up with Franklin Marshall and Harriet Spanos to provide additional input on the asynchronous approval issues in biotech regulation. 

Mike Michener, Ag Counselor in the US Mission provided me the opportunity to brief him on the biotech and infestation issues encountered on the trip and provided some input on the European context a the FAO environment for the biotech discussion.

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