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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Local potato production up by 350%, massive growth attributed to table potato import ban

Story by Tendai Munengwa

ZIMBABWE’S potato production has been boosted by the government’s import substitution policies which have seen imports of table potatoes being banned.

In 2010, the government declared potatoes a strategic crop at household level, a move that prompted massive production by local farmers.

“The restriction on table potato imports has contributed immensely to the massive growth of local production. Latest statistics show that production shot up to 600 000 tonnes up from 52 000,” reveals the head of seed of the Research Services, Edmore Mtetwa.

The measures have also paid dividends by protecting local potato farmers from unfair competition from cheap imports.

“Yes, our farmers can now enjoy the full benefits of growing potatoes and even small farmers are now eking from growing the strategic crop for food security,” said Mbare Wholesale Market Chairperson, Simbarashe Chakarowa.

Although the ban has boosted local production, consumers have, however, expressed concern over local prices.

“We used to buy imported potatoes at prices as low as US$7 but now the local product costs between US$9 to US$16, this is expensive,” said a buyer in Harare.

“Now the locals are producing in volumes the potatoes price must go down,” notes another Harare resident in Harare.

Now that the country has achieved self-sufficiency in table potato requirements, focus can now be directed on empowering local seed producers to produce quality seed and curb the inflow of substandard potatoes.

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