via Agro products imports banned | The Herald November 27, 2015
From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has banned the importation of sugar, mealie-meal and flour, among other products with immediate effect, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for Cropping, Cde Davis Marapira, said yesterday. As such, Government has started withdrawing import licences from individuals and companies that had been given the green light to bring the products into the country. He said the importation of other farm produce such as potatoes and tomatoes had also been outlawed.
The ministry, he said, wanted to promote local farmers and the milling industries that were under threat from a proliferation of cheap imports. Deputy Minister Marapira said Government wanted companies and individuals to import raw materials that would be value-added in the country to create employment and grow the economy.
“We no longer allow the importation of mealie-meal and flour together with other products such as sugar, tomatoes and potatoes. We want to encourage the importation of raw materials such as maize and mealie-meal for example because it means our local millers will have something to do,’’ he said.
“We have already started withdrawing licences from individuals and companies who were licensed to bring the banned products into the country. There are a lot of benefits that will accrue to our economy by the banning of say tomato imports because our local farmers were suffering,’’ he added.
The Deputy Minister said locally produced tomatoes from areas such as Murehwa were rotting at Mbare Musika owing to the proliferation of cheap imports, a situation he said Government wanted to reverse.
He said the local sugarcane industry, which employed more than 100 000 people was also under severe pressure from cheap sugar imports, risking livelihoods of more than half a million people who indirectly depended on the sugar industry.
“A lot of imported cheap sugar from countries such as Malawi and Swaziland was finding itself into local shops thereby threatening the viability of the local sugar industry and we have decided to impose a ban on all sugar imports,’’ he said.
Deputy Minister Marapira said stern action would be taken against individuals and companies that breached the import ban saying stringent measures would be introduced at all the country’s ports of entry to curb smuggling. He said Government was aware that there were some companies and individuals who were bent on continuing to smuggle the banned products, but warned of severe consequences.
Recently, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, was taken to task by legislators in the National Assembly over why Government continued to allow the importation of agricultural produce.
In Chiredzi, scores of new sugarcane farmers threatened to demonstrate against one of the big supermarkets in the sugar growing town for selling cheap sugar imported from Malawi.