By Noel Iyombwa
Lusaka – A decision by Zambia’s government to ban imports of onion and potatoes has been welcomed by local farmers, who say the move will grow local productive capacities in agriculture.
Farmers have long complained that major retailers often stock imports, mostly from South Africa.
Small-Scale Farmers Development Agency director Mr Boyd Moombwe said local farmers had capacity to satisfy the market. He added that the import ban would create a gap in supply and push prices up as the market adjusted to the measures.
Mr Moombwe said the policy should be extended to other farm produce to further develop Zambia’s agricultural value chains.
“Now that the government has banned the importation of onion and potatoes, it means that chain stores will be getting from local farmers, so I can only advise my fellow farmers to be consistent. We have heard of situations where a farmer’s supplies vegetable for a short period of time and then he or she fails to continue; we don’t want such a situation,” Mr Moombwe said.
Farmer Mr Sunday Chanda weighed in: “If you are a smart farmer who can do a quick analysis of the situation and venture into production of these crops, you will make a lot of money.
“Farmers who quickly adjust to this and expand production will make a lot of money before local production fully adjusts to meet demand. Smart farmers will make money this year.”
Mr James Chalwe, who farms in the Eastern Province district of Katete said the move was overdue.
“This means a lot in our advocacy to prioritise locally produced products and government should be commended because this has been our cry. We have been expanding our yields and we have been hoping to get access to the market and this is an answered prayer.
“We need as farmers to make sure we prove ourselves that we are capable to flood the market so that we instil confidence in our capacity to locally produce and supply to the expectations of the market demand.”