Government has banned the import of some vegetables (tomatoes, onions, carrots and potatoes) and fruits (mangoes, pineapples, watermelons and lemons). The aim is to “encourage the sourcing and supply of these products within the country”, Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa stated. He advised farmers to “take up the challenge”, and both the Zambia National Farmers’ Union and the Small-Scale Farmers’ Union said they would. However, Shawa also accused chain stores of being “lazy” in their efforts to source from the local market. The Ministries of Agriculture and Commerce will now meet with Food Lover’s Market and Shoprite: “The two supermarkets need to demonstrate to us that the products are unavailable or they are inadequate locally,” Shawa said.
The ban does raise questions. Assuming that production, distribution and selling is running like clockwork – which is not the case – Zambia could be self-sufficient in the four vegetables, but it will struggle with the four fruits, as they are seasonal and perishable. Thus, consumers must expect a shortage of tropical fruits in supermarkets for parts of the year.