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Zambia: Onions, Potatoes import should be stopped

Patato and onion.

In February 2021, the Zambian government banned the importation of onions and tomatoes but the ban was later lifted in April the same year. The Zambian government on Tuesday has vowed again to ban the importation of onions and potatoes following an outburst from local farmers.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Green Mbozi, said the government made a statement in a meeting held with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) to suspend the importation of onions and potatoes until further notice.

He made it known to journalists that he has the local farmers’ best interest at heart and will ensure that it is protected.

Earlier on Monday, Jervis Zimba, the president of the farmers’ association raised concerns over the flooding of imported onions and potatoes on the market, saying the trend was killing local farmers.

In a statement, he questioned the motive behind the importation of the two commodities that could be produced locally and were currently in abundance.

According to him, farmers are at risk of crop loss if the government doesn’t stop the importation of the commodities.

Meanwhile, experts have raised concerns over the government’s decision to allow the importation of some commodities that could be grown locally and are demanding a clear policy decision.

Emmanuel Mwamba, Zambia’s former Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union (AU), said the situation had been worsened by the lack of value addition in the country.

“Because we are seasonal farmers and not all-year-round farmers, in the season of plenty, we advocate for a ban on importation of onions, tomatoes, and potatoes, and as soon as the season is over, a shortage and price hike kick in and again lift the importation ban,’’ he said on his Facebook page.

Frank Kayula, a former director-general of the National Union for Small-Scale Farmers in Zambia recently urged the government to find a way of balancing imports and the need to boost local production.