Farmers cry foul over vegetable imports

FARMERS and vegetable retail players in Bulawayo have bemoaned the continued importation of vegetables, saying local farmers were capable of meeting demand.

REPORT BY SHARON SIBINDI

In interviews carried by Southern Eye, retailers and farmers said there was no need for imports of farm produce, especially vegetables.

“Why import vegetables while local farmers can produce them here?” Pradip Ranchod, a vegetable retailer, asked.

He said local farmers were facing stiff competition from cheap imports, adding that imported pumpkins, for example, were sold for 60 cents a kg, a price he said would elbow out local farmers.

Bhekimpilo Sibanda, a farmer based in Sipopoma in Lupane, who was marketing his vegetables at the market along 5th Avenue, echoed the same sentiments.

However, Sibanda who is also a renowned academic, encouraged farmers to use organic farming methods and rotate their crops often to avoid plant diseases.

“I am not against the use of commercial fertilisers, but it is expensive and out of reach for many rural communities,” he said. “Often when these commercial fertilisers are made available to rural folk, it would be too late.”

He said the greatest challenge to rural farmers was transport to carry their produce to the market, making it difficult to compete with imports.

Zimbabwe remains a net importer of farm produce — which continues to widen the country’s trade deficit.

The trade deficit went up to $1,6 billion in the four months to April this year.

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