Onions producers canvass for increased production to meet local demand

The Zambian government on Tuesday bowed to pressure and suspended the importation of onions and potatoes following an outcry from farmers.

Green Mbozi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the government had decided to suspend the importation of onions and potatoes until further notice.

This he noted followed a meeting held with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU).

He told journalists that the desire of the government was to ensure that the interest of local farmers was protected.

Earlier on Monday, Jervis Zimba, the president of the farmers’ association raised concerns over the flooding of imported onions and potatoes on the market, saying the trend was killing local farmers.

In a statement, he questioned the rationale behind the importation of the two commodities that could be produced locally and were currently in abundance.

According to him, onions and potatoes produced by local farmers risk going to waste unless the government addresses the continued importation of the commodities.

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Meanwhile, experts have raised concerns over the government’s decision to allow the importation of some commodities that could be grown locally and are demanding a clear policy decision.

Emmanuel Mwamba, Zambia’s former Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union (AU), said the situation had been worsened by the lack of value addition in the country.

“Because we are seasonal farmers and not all-year-round farmers, in the season of plenty, we advocate for a ban on importation of onions, tomatoes and potatoes, and as soon as the season is over, a shortage and price hike kick in and again lift the importation ban,’’ he said on his Facebook page.

In February 2021, the government banned the importation of onions and tomatoes but the ban was later lifted in April the same year.

Frank Kayula, a former director-general of the National Union for Small-Scale Farmers in Zambia recently urged the government to find a way of balancing imports and the need to boost local production.


Vanguard News Nigeria.


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