Turf war over imported white potatoes


A turf war is raging to keep imported South African white potatoes out of the Zambian market.

Sources close to tough negotiations between the Zambian government and the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) say local farmers, both small and commercial producers, are concerned that the imported potatoes are choking local production.

According to sources, ZNFU was joined by the BuyZed Campaign to lobby for the regulation of potato imports.

“South African potato markets are currently over-supplied due to a bumper harvest there, but the over-production is not Zambia’s problem and we want government to regulate the import of potatoes,” the source said.

Earlier in the year, Zambia imposed a ban on the import of fruit and vegetables which included white potato, but the ban was quickly reversed after it was found to be in violation of the Common Southern and East African Markets (COMESA) trade protocols.

The source claimed the flooded market will affect the investment of an estimated K300 million by local commercial producers.

“Government is between a rock and hard place with regards to conforming to COMESA trade protocols and market stimulation for local produce.

“A major concern for us is that it is easier for other nations to export into Zambia, but this is not the case for local farmers to get their produce into foreign markets,” the source said.

BuyZed’s Evans Ngoma says the potato market will crash in the same way the soya bean market did as a result of over-supply.

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