Local farmers want vegetable imports banned

Local farmers want vegetable imports banned

By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, July 21 (The Source) – Local farmers want government to ban imports of fruits and vegetables from neighbouring countries which they say are making it difficult for them to secure markets for their produce.

“Some farmers have had their produce rotting in the fields because they failed to get buyers for it,” said Plaxedes Madzivire of the Zimbabwe Women Economic Empowerment Support (ZWEES) while presenting oral evidence before a parliamentary lands parliamentary portfolio committee.

“Those who manage to get a market, sell their produce for very little because of the stiff competition from the low-priced imports.”

She appealed to government to limit the importation of cheap fruit and vegetables in order to increase uptake of local produce.

Last year, government introduced a law requiring importers of selected agricultural products, including poultry and sugar, to apply for licences in a bid to control imports that are flooding the local market but cheap imports remain a challenge.

The country’s import bill is seen at $3,5 billion by year end from $3 billion last year.

Madzivire said local farmers produced enough products such as tomatoes and chickens for the local market without the need for imports.

The president of the Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust, Depina Nkomo told the committee that lack of access to cheap finance to buy equipment remained a concern.

“The banks ask for collateral which women don’t have. They ask for 40 percent as deposit and the bank charges are very high,” she said, while appealing to government to set up a revolving fund to benefit especially women farmers.

Women farmers would also like an arrangement similar to tobacco contract farming,  she said, with the produce acting as collateral.