Zambian government u-turns on agro import ban

The Zambian government has backtracked on banning the import of agricultural produce. The reversal of the ban was confirmed yesterday by Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Kayula Siame, at a media briefing in Lusaka.

Siame said Zambia – 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.

Zambian Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary, Kayula Siame.

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 Shawa, 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.

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