Zimbabwe cuts agricultural imports from SA

THE Zimbabwean government has begun moves to cut off agricultural imports from South Africa, saying it wants to protect its farmers.

Joseph Made, the minister of agriculture, mechanisation and irrigation development, was yesterday quoted in local state media as saying: "There is no way we should import tomatoes when the produce is flooding and rotting at Mbare Musika (a huge fruit and vegetable market in Harare)."

South African tomato producers can expect to face increasing difficulty in selling their produce in Zimbabwe. Dairy and meat imports have already been limited to almost nothing. The move has seen food prices rise by up to 6percent in recent months.

Made said: "Agricultural imports are threatening local farmers. We should ensure fair trade and it is critical that we support our farmers.

"We will have to carry out a thorough assessment before issuing import permits. We would want a detailed study and only issue permits exhausting all details otherwise we will be putting farmers' efforts to waste."

While Made did not mention the countries whose imports were being targeted, local supermarkets were evidently running out of South African imported chickens, eggs and dairy products.