The ban is as a result of the recent discovery of the highly destructive tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) within Botswana’s borders, and includes tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, melon pears and beetroots.
While Botswana has its own fresh produce farms, the volumes produced by these are insufficient to meet national demand, hence the country’s reliance on imports from the likes of neighbouring SA.
SA retail chain Spar, which also has operations in Botswana, confirmed it was no longer allowed to import a variety of fresh produce for its outlets there.
“The [Botswana] Plant Protection Services have cracked down on border inspections and are removing any banned products from trucks before allowing them into the country,” said Spar’s produce category buyer John White.
White said that while Botswana still currently had sufficient quantities of brinjals and green peppers, tomatoes and potatoes were already in short supply.
“One of the big issues is that the import of potato tubers has also been stopped and local farmers can’t plant for the next crop. Potatoes are a staple food source and this is a major issue going forward,” said White.
Spar praised the Botswana government for being proactive in informing its citizens, via newspaper adverts and radio broadcasts, of the reasons behind the ban and the resultant shortages.
BREAKING NEWS – Spar’s John White has told Farmer’s Weekly he’s just received a report from Spar Botswana that potatoes are no longer available at its stores.