Zambian government backtracks on vegetable importation ban

The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry has backtracked on the prior imposed vegetable and fruit importation ban despite protest from local farmers that the import is squeezing them out of the market.

This was contained in a media briefing in Lusaka the capital confirmed by Permanent Secretary Kayula Siame. Being bound by trade protocols of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) – can’t implement such a ban without engaging stakeholders and effecting a statutory instrument. “As matters stand, there is no such statutory instrument. That means there is no ban on the importation of fresh produce,” she said.

Tomatoes, onions, carrots, mangoes and potatoes are among the agricultural produce which were banned after complaints from local farmers. They argued the imports are squeezing them out of the market. Others produce includes pineapple, lemon and watermelon.

Local farmers welcomed the move, but multinational chain stores were incensed and wanted the ban lifted. Kayula, accompanied by her agriculture counterpart Julius Sakala, said they must find a way to increase the production capacity of local farmers to enable them to meet local and international demand.

“We are consulting with various stakeholders in the industry, including chain stores, to find ways in which local farmers could increase participation in supplying farm produce.” She said a key consideration was to ensure local produce met quality standards. Shawa said consistent with that, his ministry will implement measures to enable small and medium scale farmers to take advantage of the prevailing market to improve the production of high standard produce