Fruit growers bemoan imports

THE Government must seriously consider banning the importation of fruits and vegetables to allow for the local industry to flourish to its full potential.

Former Fruits and Vegetables Association president Richard Lisimba said the country had the potential to produce enough fruits and vegetables to meet the country’s needs and leave some for export.

Mr Lisimba said it was disheartening that some international chain stores in Zambia were importing fruits and vegetables despite adequate local produce being available.

“It pains me to even think that chain stores are importing lemons? And they are importing paw-paw, honestly?

“The Government needs to put their hands where their mouth is; we need to have laws which deter these chain stores from importing fruits and vegetables which could be locally produced given the required attention,” he said.

Mr Lisimba explained that the country was endowed with plenty of land, water and human resource to achieve the potential of the sector if only there was Government support to creating local market instead of allowing the importation of what could be locally produced.

He charged that chain stores must compelled to abide by regulations that restrict sale of local fruits and vegetables other than allow them import lemons, mango and avocadoes which the country was more than capable of producing.

“We have the water, land and a hoard of strong young men and women roaming the streets without employment who can be employed on the farms to increase production once the foreign exchange stops going out for importation, but instead remained in the country to empower the local  farmers,” he said.

Zambia imports most of its fruits and vegetables because most importers claimed the country was incapable of producing adequate supplies to meet the local market demand.