Zim to ban farm produce imports

HARARE - Zimbabwe is moving to ban the import of farm produce as it looks at investing close to $150 million in the agriculture sector, Agriculture minister Joseph Made said.

Giving an update on the state of food security to a Senate thematic committee on Peace and Security yesterday, Made said the ban would be a way of protecting the export market from poor quality food.

“Our position is very clear. The market that we are looking at is generally Europe and so on, and that market we want to address it as a niche market in terms of high quality food and we cannot talk of high quality food when our importation might relate to some foods that you know the market will say no to, I thought I should just hint at that,” Made told the Senate committee chaired by Mashonaland Central senator Damian Mumvuri.

To date, Treasury has made a provision of $62 million for the purchase of grain while the Agricultural Marketing Authority (Ama) has been targeted to raise $80 million under command agriculture.

The country is recovering from two consecutive years of drought which saw over five million people being food insecure in the former bread basket of southern Africa.

Currently, the country has 250 000 metric tonnes in its strategic grain reserves, expected to last six months.

Made said the grain in the government coffers will also be distributed to people who have been affected by floods.

Under the special maize production programme, Made said government had distributed 5 665 metric tonnes of grain, nine million litres of fuel and 46 023 metric tonnes of compound D fertiliser as well as 22 993 metric tonnes of top dressing.

Made, however, said the country would continue to import fertiliser until industry can meet the demand.

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