LATEST: Mixed reactions on importation freeze

The greater the consumption of fruits and vegetables, the less risk of cancerHerald Reporters
Players in the agricultural sector have received with mixed reactions, the move by the Government to suspend importation of all existing imports on the local markets.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made recently said there was need to revise the rules and regulations to be followed when importing agricultural produce as he announced the immediate suspension of the permits.

Farmers have complained that cheap imported produce – mainly from South Africa – are flooding the local market and negatively affecting their operations.

But some analysts believe that the cancellation of the import permits could trigger massive price hikes since the cost of production in Zimbabwe is higher than in South Africa and thus local products cost more on the market.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said: “The country is importing eggs, vegetables, fruits and poultry products leaving us with nowhere to sell our produce. Some countries are dumping their produce on us and we end up losing our markets.

“As farmers, our Government should give us protection on food we produce here. Some countries subsidise their farmers and give them export incentives which make their produce cheaper compared to local produce, “said Mr Chabhikwa.

Mr Chabikwa said they were unable to compete with subsidised farmers.

“We welcome the move as this protects us to remain productive,” he said.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union second vice-president Mr Berean Mukwende said  he hoped security would be tightened at the borders to stamp out smuggling.

He said the cancellation of import permits should serve as a challenge to local farmers to produce quality foodstuffs.

“It’s a step in the right direction and it goes in line with Zim-Asset,” said Mr Mukwende. “We should not look only on the financial aspect but various others, such as employment creation.”

Agricultural economist Mr Midway Bhunu said this would protect local farmers against cheap imports.

“Government will save the balance of payment by reducing value of imports,” he said.

Last week Cde Made issued a statement that all import permits had been cancelled.

“This is pending the return of the old permits to the ministry so that new ones have to be issued. The ministry will follow certain rules and regulations that have to be observed by the licence holders.”

Dr Made did not disclose when new permits would be issued.

Some farmers said Government should first establish the local production deficit so that import licenses would only be issued for produce that was not readily available locally.

Other experts said while it was important to support local farmers by availing markets, this could be better achieved by reducing, not banning imports.

In August 2013, the horticulture industry called for higher import tariffs to avert the collapse of the local industry.

Three years earlier, the Agriculture Marketing Authority imposed a ban on South African potato imports because local producers were failing to compete with their prices.

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  • s.c

    it is decisions like this that make us doubt the competence of some of our leaders, we definitely import because we are fair to produce due to the cost of production and low capability, they should address that first then we can stop imports, i wonder who advises these people, this is common sense.

    • eddie

      Maybe he used the shona principle yekuti kana wafunga kudya imbwa idya riri gono. instead he should have reduced the imports by a certain percentage and monitor the market behaviour. hatidi kuzofa nenzara muno at the same time we want our brothers in farming to survive as well.

  • Spencer

    Its all very well for Made to block imports of fresh produce. What remains to be seen is will market forces determine the price of local produce or are we going to be seriously affected to a point where one tomato will cost a dollar

  • Drudge Report

    This is an ill advised move by Made. As a doctor he should understand that comprehensive research is needed to be conducted before such a drastic move is taken. Soon we will see the shelves empty bcoz the locals are unable to fulfil market demand. The best course of action would have been to increase tariffs on imports. This would have a double benefit of makings the prices of imported produce competitive with local goods whilst at the same time increasing much needed revenue into the broke goverment coffers. The third benefit is the consumers will not experience shortages as will likely be the case.

  • Grow up

    Chabikwa be a man and stop being a baby, why do u seek protection, rather seek subsidies from the state, now everyone is going to have to pay more for basics simply because you farmers are babies

  • Tonydread

    This has been tried before on dairy products but it was reversed coz the local producers did not have the capacity to satisfy the local market,has this Made guy made his research before blundering again, i don’t think so as usual.Have we all of a sudden become self sufficient again,we will have to see that,however all i know is the price of these products will sky rocket because demand will outgun supply.Not that demand will have all of a sudden increased but that the same demand levels are competing against too few availlable products.Coming to the issue of govt. subsidizing the local farmers,currently this is a far fetched dream,do you think a govt that almost failed to pay civil servants will have the luxury of providing subsidies to the local farmer?

    • Matigimu

      what research? they have no that word in their vocabulary, rather , “they do thega”, that’s more like their phrase

  • jaku

    The problem with our govt is that it is not proactive but reactive.The GMB for instance has failed to stimulate the production of maize. Other countries use subsidies to promote agricutural production. the Rhodesian govt used to do that to its white farmers.The money being looted by senior govt officials belong to farmers as sudsidies.Our priorities as a nation are at times shameful.The measures being implemented will only help to raise prices.Right now there is a shortage of cabbages on the market.Our farmers simply have no capacity because they do not have support from govt.

    • Jotham

      There is too much of foreign goods . Usataura kunge unehope dzedoro.

  • George Marange

    South Africa should do the same and stop importing Zimbabwean labour.

    • Jotham

      South Africa is free to do that why don’t you lobby them right now since you are their representative.

  • chadonha

    agricultural products in South Africa are produced as GMO’S and so they will obviously be cheaper, we cannot allow such products to flood our market because they are not healthy. However, the government should strongly monitor the prices so that consumers are not overpriced

  • Zvandinoda

    We should also stop importing chineese products. We also have local cotton farmer… lol.

  • Major Mwangi

    This is not a very wise idea Dr Made and very soon you will regret this .

  • Matigimu

    2 lines dzechibage pafarm raminister is the cause of such policies, already them thieves have convinced themselves that we such levels of farming they will get more money from it by stifling supply……varombo vachakuvara zveshuwa

  • Chitina

    short sighted ill decisions seem to govern our country ..the best part is give them 2 weeks MAX the decision will be reversed they ALWAYS reverse them when they see they made irrational decisions but why make them in the first place?. There is no action plan ,no implementation to support systems..we should be worried for the future of this country .. fresh proactive minds wallow in self pity in their homes jobless as our country rots..

  • Mimi

    @Jotham thumps up to the way you argue sometimes but the bottom line is that vaMade zvavo has proved not to be the best person in this Agriculture Ministry. And Pablo Escobar wagona – the only hitch in your opinion is that Zimbabwe cannot afford to snub SA products… actually free trade is just the way to go. As far as I am concerned even given what me and my family have had to go through, even having GMO foods at our table will be better than nothing believe me. Nzara haingoiti vakomana and this is a fact.

  • gear

    SA farmers are HEAViLY SUBSIDISED by their gvt. understand?

  • Hemp

    S.A.has GMO products which are cheaper in more ways than one and we don’t want GMO in Zimbabwe. Protectionism is a necessity. The South Africans practice it with their subsidies.

  • Jotham

    Pablo Escobar I have always wondered about your normalcy . Idiocy ranks supreme in your brain. The Govt. must ban outright the importation of perishable products. This will enable our farmers and companies to a market for their products. We can not create a market for South African goods at the expense of locals. This importation of goods has resulted in the flight of money to SA. We can not afford to import even the air we breath. Pablo you should be economical mined rather than use excuses to defend trash.

  • anon

    Ko, imi marambidzwa nani kupa masubsidies?

  • Khathazile

    SA farmers also have security of tenure and can get bank loans. The ability to subsidise farmers, is the result of available Treasury resulting from investment friendly SA government policies proving an impressive GDP. All points lacking in Zimbabwe saddled with an incompetent Government, understand?

  • Major Mwangi

    So let our government subsidise our farmers heavily too. you understand.

  • chokwadi

    Zimbabwean farmers ARE HEAVILY SUBSIDISED everthing fertilizer, seeds they have more subsidies than the farmers here in south africa, they need to learn modern farming methods in order to be relevant , the government cant protect a useless industry at the expense of the whole country.if prices go up the whole country suffers, better vasuffer ivo ma farmers asina chaari kubatsira nacho nyika

  • Popiro

    Hatina mari

  • Jotham

    You have a very good point.

  • Matigimu

    don’t forget that protectionism was there just a few years ago, we all know what happened. the poor will suffer

  • Sifiso Xolile Ndlovu Zgwanyanw

    Good point. A close inspection of Bokomo products, Knor and other fancies you can pick up in a supermarket in Zimbabwe will reveal the 4 little words: contains genetically modified nasties!

  • Matigimu

    but they wont produce enough, resulting in higher demand than supply, what entails u can conclude

  • Rwatida Makuwe

    @Jotham. We do not want to protect mercenaries here! Our farmers should not charge unreasonable prices because they are protected by this ban. They should just be reasonable. I was surprised one day when I saw how expensive our own Olivine oil is as compared to imported products! If productions cost is still high then we are still far away from it, let imports come. There is no need to protect industries and businesses who will make the majority suffer because of their exorbitant prices! Yes we need to revive the industry and build local capacity. May be if the government can subsidize these businesses and control the prices, the better!

  • Sifiso Xolile Ndlovu Zgwanyanw

    SA farmers are mostly boers, the banks that fund them are owned and managed by boers, all to the benefit of the minorities, the corrupt government of South Africa has no political muscle to do anything to create a more equal system that benefits everyone since they are busy stealing what they can, much like what was the case in the first 10 years of Zimbabwe’s independence. The impressive GDP you speak of means very little to the millions of slum dwellers in South Africa who are as marginalised as they were pre-independence. The flip side of the coin is the EFF wins and South Africa slides into a collapsed economy and hyperinflation, thousands of boers run, blacks take over the farms for a time before Malema is assassinated and everything goes back to the way it has always been, including an impressive GDP and millions of poor black crammed up in slums.

  • Jotham

    We as a country should act in a responsible manner. We are keen to create employment- the more our farmers and manufacturers are given a life line wonders will occur. Presently the SA job seekers are employed because we rely heavily on imports from them – thus giving SA employment whilst denying Zimbos. jobs they need. We should not rely on assumptions – give locals an opportunity and then judge the results there after.

  • KNOX

    Ithink you you need to be objective on this one Ndlovu. For how long have we subsidized our farmers and what has come of it. Our focus should be on the impact of protectionism to the local market. Will our farmers be able to meet the local demand, will it produce the intended results or farmers will cash in on high demand and respond by increasing prices. Do our farmers have the capacity to increase out put by way of investment or they will be inefficient and fail to enjoy economies of scale. This is likely to cause massive shortage of agriculture produce and what institutional support has the government put in place to assist our farmers realise the intended results.

  • Hemp

    Thank you. Nasty is the word indeed. We don’t need GMO’s at all.

  • Sifiso Xolile Ndlovu Zgwanyanw

    Some statistics would help your argument, for example, a comparison of subsidies data in USD between the Zimbabwean and South African farmers in the last 10 years will shed some light and you will be surprised by the findings. ‘Heavily subsidised’ is a long stretch by any account, if we are to be fair unless you are referring to South African farmers.