ZIMBABWE BANS ALL FRUIT AND VEGETABLE IMPORTS
Zimbabwe’s government has banned all imports of fruits and vegetables, the nation’s agricultural ministry announced this week.
“Government has, with immediate effect, suspended importation of all agricultural produce and cancelled all existing import permits,” the nation’s online portal said in its most recent agricultural news update.
Although the date of the release was not immediately apparent, news of the ban began to circulate African media on Monday.
“All import permits have been cancelled. This is pending the return of the old permits to the ministry so that new ones have to be issued. The ministry will follow certain rules and regulations that have to be observed by the licence holders,” agriculture minister Joseph Made said in the statement.
The release said cheap imported produce, mostly from South Africa, had flooded the local market and left Zimbabwean farmers unable to compete. Products expected to feel the greatest impact from the ban were South African tomatoes, potatoes, mangoes, grapes and apples, Reuters reported.
The government quoted Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president, Wonder Chabikwa, as evidence of farmer support for the ban.
“The country is importing eggs, vegetables, fruits and poultry products leaving us with nowhere to sell our produce. Some countries are dumping their produce on us and we end up losing our markets,” he said in the release.
“We welcome the move as this protects us to remain productive.”
The statement also recognized the possibility of “massive price ramifications,” due in large part to the higher production costs in Zimbabwe compared to South Africa.
Zimbabwe is considered one of the most food insecure nation’s in the world. In October, data from U.K. analyst Maplecroft ranked Zimbabwe as the highest risk country worldwide under its food security index.
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimated in February that 2.2 million of Zimbabwe’s rural residents would be impacted by food insecurity throughout the month.
“Negative coping mechanisms are being employed in most communities, including illegal mining activities, cross-border trade, and distress disposal of assets, such as livestock. Food security conditions in the region are expected to improve as the harvest begins in March,” WFP reported.
Leading causes of Zimbabwe’s food insecurity were listed as drought, a series of poor harvests, estimated unemployment of around 60%, restructuring of the agriculture sector and one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world.