Botswana ban on produce imports sparks regional doubt - FreshFruitPortal.com

Botswana ban on produce imports sparks regional doubt

As a control measure against the Asian fruit fly, the Botswana government has placed a temporary ban on fruit and vegetable imports, Africa Review reported.543px-Dsuzukiimalefrancisco

The length and extent of the ban were not made immediately clear. Restrictions were expected to continue until the outbreak could be brought under control in the nation's northern region.

Food shortages were anticipated as a result of the ban, Mmegi Online reported.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Geoffrey Pheko told the Botswana publication that local produce would not be enough to feed the population but said nothing else could be done until affected farms were totally treated.

Farms impacted by the pest were also placed under quarantine. Fruits from such farms were to undergo "cold, or heat or chemical treatments," a ministry statement said.

Botswana imports US$23.7 million or 34,000 MT of fruits and vegetables annually to complement the 41,000 MT of produce grown locally, according to Africa Review.

Neighboring South Africa is a major supplier of Botswana's fruit and vegetable imports. Egoli market agent Danny Geral anticipated a big impact on South African wholesale markets due to the lose of its trade partner.

"I sell about 1,500 pellets of carrots a month and my main buyers are Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and King Fresh buys huge volumes through me for Botswana," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.

"It will be huge."

South Africa Fresh Produce Exporters' Former CEO Anton Kruger explained that fresh wholesale markets will likely bear the brunt in terms of export volumes. These markets receive more regional business from traders who export their products by land.

As a representative of mostly aerial exporters, Kruger did not anticipate a significant impact on the national fruit industry.

"We export only 4% of our fruit to the entire African continent. The majority of our exports go to Europe or the U.K. There are only apples that we export [to Africa] and those are mostly to the Central African state," Kruger said.

Photo: A male Drosophila suzukii, also known as the Asian fruit fly, by M. Francisco via Wikimedia Commons

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