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Importation ban yields results

22 Mar 2023

The ban on importation of fruits and vegetables has resulted in the increase of local production from 36 244 tonnes to 45 221 tonnes. 

Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Mmusi Kgafela said that showed an increase of 25 per cent was further facilitated by government initiative of providing an impact Accelerator Facility to the tune of P70 million. 

The minister, who was answering a question in Parliament on Monday, said the initiative allowed for a 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent own contribution to farmers, adding that so far, 461 farmers had benefited from the initiative across the country. 

Minister Kgafela further revealed that the importation of fruits and vegetables for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 were P354 944 687.55, P375 683 004.06 and P176 999.364.27 respectively. 

The figures, he said, showed at least a 50 per cent decline in the value of imported fruits and vegetables. 

Regarding exports, he said for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 they accumulated P3 358 407.76, P2 894 485.83 and P3 732 432. 68 respectively. 

The figures, Mr Kgafela said, 28.95 per cent compared to the last year before the restriction. 

He explained that the imposition of restrictions on importation of fruits and vegetables had an impact on the structure of imports. 

He noted that before the ban, food, beverages and tobacco made up to 36.1 per cent of total imports in December 2020, according to Statistics Botswana.

Parliament was also informed that in 2022, the same commodities only contributed 12.8 per cent to total imports. 

Minister Kgafela said that was an indication that food imports, which vegetables were part of had reduced by at least 23.3 per cent due to vegetables restriction. 

The minister noted that there was great potential for other food products to be added in the basket of restricted commodities, noting that an assessment to determine additional products would be undertaken with a view to inform  decision on specific products for inclusion. 

Furthermore, he said government had in place other import restrictions such as restriction on the importation of salt; pre-packed refined sugar; bottled water; baked goods; wheat flour and maize extruded snacks. 

The impact of those measures, Mr Kgafela said had been positive but an in-depth analysis was still to be carried out. 

“We should be mindful that the base years 2020 and 2021 were not normal years due to COVID-19 affliction, where we experienced lockdowns and the economy was a bit slow in 2021”, he said. 

Mr Kgafela said monitoring of the economy would continue to be done in order to assess the impact of not only the ban on vegetables but all statutory instruments imposed by government. 

Molepolole North legislator, Mr Oabile Regoeng had wanted to know the degree to which the imposition of the restriction on importation of vegetables had to date influenced the country’s balance of trade. 

Mr Regoeng had also asked whether there was any immediate plan to add other food products in the basket of already restricted commodities and how significant the restriction had impacted on the food import bill. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : BOPA

Location : Gaborone

Event : Press statement

Date : 22 Mar 2023