The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is fuming over what it says is a continued trend of Zambia being increasingly a dumping ground for foreign agricultural products.
This is as local producers complained of being marginalised by imports, mainly from South Africa.
ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said the ‘free flow’ of cheap agricultural imports into Zambia was beyond what was contained in the free trade area agreement as such developments could not be condoned in other countries.
“This has a knock-on effect on our local farmers and the economy at large. And this will make Zambia’s desire to diversify the economy through agriculture a non-starter,” Zimba said.
He said producers of tomatoes, white potatoes and fruits such as bananas and oranges had been hard hit by the dumping.
According to ZNFU, weak border controls, especially on the northern borders, had contributed to the flooding of the local market with agro products that were not being taxed. This made it impossible for local producers to compete.
“Right now, there is no business for local farmers because of cheaper agricultural products that come into the country without any additional costs such as tax,” Zimba said.
Meanwhile local potatoes producers are selling below cost of production due to the market being flooded by imports from South Africa.
In the latest ZNFU newsletter the farmers’ union writes that the Dairy Association of Zambia are concerned that unfair competition from cheaply imported products is suppressing local production and growth.
According to Kapoche Mwalethe, Dairy Association of Zambia economist, protectionist barriers from other Southern African Development Community countries like Zimbabwe also leads to reductions in dairy exports.
Government had earlier this year imposed a ban on importation of agricultural products but quickly back-tracked after it was reminded that the move contravened trade protocols Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).