Outcry over imported potatoes

potatoesBusiness Reporter
The horticulture industry is calling for higher import tariffs on imported horticulture products to avert the collapse of the local industry. Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union second vice-president Mr Berean Mukwende said there has been an increase in the quantities of potatoes and tomatoes being imported from South Africa and sold cheaply on the market.

“The Government and Agricultural Marketing Authority should impose stiffer measures to curb the importation of these products so that we can grow our market,” he said.

He said cheap imports were crowding out Zimbabwean producers who have been forced to reduce their prices to compete with imported products.
“Our farmers are capable of producing enough to supply the market and export, but when faced with the cheap imports from South Africa, our produce becomes expensive for the consumer,” he said.

He said the South African government subsidised its farmers and gives them export incentives which make their produce cheaper compared to local produce. In 2010, AMA imposed a ban on imported potatoes from South Africa as local producers were failing to compete with the prices of South African potatoes.

However, stricter measures to enforce the ban was no possible as this would have resulted in serious shortages of the produce on the market as local producers were at the time not yet able to meet demand.

Mr Mukwende said local farmers were now able to meet demand hence the need to scale up the restrictions. He added that depending on imports was not a good idea as it put the country at risk of importing potatoes with diseases that would destroy the sector. Mr Mukwende also said there was need to improve varieties of products in order to increase yields.

“Currently, we are using varieties that have a low yield of up to 20 tonnes per hectare but other countries are now using varieties that yield 80 tonnes per hectare,” he said.

He said since the country was already importing seed potato, it was a good idea to import high-yield seeds while channelling resources towards researches that would help come up with a local high-yield variety seed. Traditionally, potatoes have been grown by large-scale commercial farmers in Zimbabwe but more and more smallholder farmers are now growing the crop.

Communal areas around Nyanga, Mutasa, Domboshava, Chiweshe, Wedza, Goromonzi and Mhondoro are producing significant quantities of the crop. An estimated 900 to 1 000 hectares are put under potato production every year.

It costs between US$4 500 and US$6 500 per hectare to produce potatoes, which is out of reach for some small scale farmers but the high returns offered by the crop and the short production period facilitate rapid establishment of cropping programmes and enhances farm development.

Farmers can realise between US$0, 67 to US$0, 80 per kg on potatoes.

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  • Citizen

    why should there be tarrifs? if we are able to produce for ourselves then lets do so.kana mwana akaguta anoenda kunodya kumaraini here

    • Desert Rambler

      If Zim Farmers could produce quality potatoes compareable to imported potatoes at a competitive price this would not be an issue

  • Chitova

    People in zimbabwe behave as if money grows on trees.they strive to make 80-100%profit on things they sell.what they don’t know is that most of the times low margin quick returns is the best and most profitable business ethic.look even at phone charges.zimbabwe ranks among the most expensive tariffs.when calling from international destinations the tariffs r to expensive.this has resulted in all the networks I know taking it off the airtime bundles.where we used to get 70 mins to call zim mobiles u now only get 20mins at most.these r not sanctions bt mere greed by zim networks.

    • zimbabwean

      I dont know which world you live on but the Agricultural sector isnt a profit-by-margin industry and you made a very poor analogy to telecommunications. In fact they are almost always in debt because of poor operational resources.

  • mamuna

    regi zvichipe vanhu varare vakaguta and stop being greedy , moda kuti zvivharwe kuti mutengese zvenyu mega zvinodhura munoti dora racho vanhu vari kurinhonga here

    • dzidzai

      Waverenga here? Dai waenda kuKwaedza nekuti clearly wanzvengwa nechirungu. Uyezve kuguta kuritemporary. Simple economics inokuudza kuti with a sustainable farming and government backing prices would normalise. Meaning mari yacho inoenda ku SA inenge yave kuenda kuma local farmers. Ivo voproducer more. Voguta. Vogutisa vashandi vavo. Vowedzera vashandi.Produce to wedzera. Mitengo yozoita normal. Iwe woguta wo. SA yombomira kukara mari dzedu. Economy yoguta

  • Trader

    There should be no imports of potatoes coming into the country at the moment. Anyone who is in the trade knows this. My question is why are our borders allowing it??? We can not advocate for higher tariffs to curb illegal activities. People at our borders should do their jobs properly and save us this unnecessary confusion. To the best of my knowledge PPRI have not opened the window for potato imports, therefore anything that is on the market ex-SA is illegal.

  • Zimbabwean

    Hello there Mr Know-it-All.

    SA employs GMO technologies extensively. These positively affect yield volumes per hectare, imrove time to market, disease resistance and shelf life.

    But as you,me and the world knows GMO foods are not without consequences. They are not regarded safe. The food tastes like cardboard and research on GMO foods generally indicates that impact of SOME on health is “possibly” harmful

    The rest of the world appreciates more organically grown foods as opposed to those that are not

    The Zimbabwean potato is likely to be healthier.

    in addition to that,Input costs,the economy, accessibility to capital for farmers and market disadvantage (demand and local supply) drive a Zimbabwean grown potato high.

    Tarrifs are protectionist and practised by European and the USA to protect their farmers and influence the market. They even go further to subsidise their farmers. This is the centre of the decades long global trade debate. Take it uponyourself to read on it.

    Zimbabwe should not add tarrifs that are so high to create a shortage but high enough for the price to be just about the same.

    But ONLY after injecting capital and having a protracted and well thought out exercise for a target harvest for the farmers.

    Handiti Hanzi vans veZimbabwe makadzidza? Tine ma agricultural institutions,economists(not empowerment types) , veResearch who can sit down craft a programme that is not lazy or all talk or political grandstanding or a way to get money,cars and conference monies.

    ZANU inoda kumuka. Itai NASA sekuti party ichafa muna 2018. Inga tese tirimumabasa toshanda with great fear and expectation.