Botswana Extends and Expands Import Restrictions on Fresh Produce

tendata blogTrade Trends News

ten data blog07-12-2023

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Botswana said on Monday it will extend and expand import restrictions on some fresh produce to achieve food self-sufficiency and cut import bills.

The agriculture ministry said the import ban on tomatoes, potatoes, onions and other produce, which was set to expire at the end of December, would remain in place until the end of 2025, angering farmers in neighboring South Africa.

The number of restricted items will also double to 32 from July next year, the ministry added.

Waiting until July will serve as a grace period to allow Botswana's "farmers some time to plant so that local produce can be prepared," it said.

The drought-prone country has a relatively small agricultural sector, accounting for about 5 percent of economic output, and local farmers are squeezed by cheap imports from South Africa.

Until a two-year ban begins in January 2022, South Africa supplies about 80 percent of the country's food.

Botswana's president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said in his state of the nation address last month that the import ban had cut the country's fresh produce import bill by 71 percent.

Botswana says it is protecting a new industry, but South African farmers say the ban violates the Southern African Customs Union agreement.

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