17 April 2000
British farmers send food to Ethiopia

By FWi staff

BRITISH farmers are re-launching the “Send a Tonne to Africa” appeal in a bid to buy thousands of tonnes of wheat for famine-stricken Ethiopia.

The initiative is the brain-child of Cambridgeshire farmer Oliver Walston. It will be unveiled at the House of Commons on Tuesday (18 April).

Ethiopia estimates that it needs about a million tonnes of food aid to give 8 million people a chance of surviving the drought in the Horn of Africa.

Betty Boothroyd, the House of Commons speaker, has pledged to contribute 3000 to the appeal, roughly the equivalent of 50t of wheat.

Mr Walston was behind the first send-a-tonne appeal, which raised 2.2m to buy 12,000t of grain for Ethiopia during the 1984 famine.

This time round, he is asking British farmers and grain merchants to contribute 60 each to the appeal – equivalent to the cost of a tonne of wheat.

Dairy and beef farmers are also being asked to contribute to the appeal by sending cheques for whatever amount they can afford

Because of the crisis in British farming, Mr Walston said he would be happy if the appeal raised 250,000, which would buy about 4200t of grain.

“We realise that farmers in this country are in economic trouble today but, compared to Ethiopia, they are still very rich,” he added.

Environmental pressure groups and farming associations have set aside their differences to lend support to the appeal.

Among others groups, it is being backed by the National Farmers Union, the Country Landowners Association, the Soil Association and Monsanto.

Mr Walston said he fully accepted that sending food to Africa was normally a bad idea because it can destroy the local agriculture.

But in times of famine, it is the only course of action, he added. The money raised will be donated to the Farm Africa charity which will buy the grain.