- Ban revised to add another two years and expand the scope of horticultural products restricted
Botswana said on Monday it would extend and expand restrictions on imports of some fresh produce as it tries to become self-sufficient in food and cut its import bill.
The ban on imports of tomatoes, potatoes, onions and other produce – which has angered farmers in neighbouring South Africa and was due to expire at the end of December – would now run until the end of 2025, the agriculture ministry said.
Furthermore, the ministry says the scope of the restriction has been revised to cover additional products that include patty pan, pumpkin, sweet potato, green beans, sweet melon, mushroom, calabash, spanspeck, eggplant and okra.
In mid-2023, South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, released a report contextualizing the ban on South African vegetables by Namibia and Botswana within the prism of regional integration.
Raising concerns in the strongly-worded report, South Africa pointed out that the ban on its vegetable exports destined for Namibia and Botswana will likely have a negative impact as local farmers will potentially plant fewer vegetables, a move that will hurt export revenue and lead to job losses across the vegetable supply chain in the country as well as lead to higher prices of vegetables, market inefficiencies and supply shortages in both countries due to lack of competition resulting in significant consumer and producer welfare losses.
South Africa, which produces about 5.4 million tons of vegetables a year and nearly 78 percent of that made up of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots and cabbages says the import ban is not in spirit of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), which seeks to promote intra-Africa trade.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) speech recently, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the restriction ban is bearing fruit as it has led to a reduction in Botswana’s fresh produce import bill from P634 million in 2018 to P182 million in 2023. According to Masisi, this has reduced the import bill by P452 million, an impressive 71 percent production.