• It is a good move because local farmers need to be supported.
• If the farmers have stock, it’s a good move to delay imports a bit until local production is exhausted.
• However, traders do not know the farmers who are having onions as government has not provided information.
Fruit and Vegetable Traders Association of Zambia says government’s move to suspend onion and potato imports will provide ready market for local farmers.
Speaking in an interview with Money FM News, Association President Bernard Sikunyongana states that the move is step in the direction because local farmers need to be supported.
Mr. Sikunyongana said there is need to delay onion imports until the local market is exhausted.
He however stated that the Association is worried about the decision to suspend onion imports because there is no information on which farmers are having the commodity so that traders can have easy access to the onion.
“It’s a good move because we need to support our local farmers. If the farmers have stock it’s a good move to delay imports a bit until we have exhausted our local production and then we can open for the imports. But we are a bit worried about that decision because we have no information, traders are supposed to know who is this farmer having onions because we know where to get potatoes, but where are these farmers with the stocks of onion.”
“When we stop traders that don’t import, we are simply saying go and buy from such and such a farmer, because a farmer is just basically producing and we go and buy from a farmer then take the commodity to the market but there is no information where we can get the onion, to me there is a conflict there now because we are supposed to know where are these farmers so that we can give them business,” Mr. Sikunyongana said.
Mr. Sikunyongana traders are ready to support local farmers, instead of importing Onion from South Africa; they can help in providing a ready market for the commodity.
“We know the farmers we have been dealing with in Eastern Province and these farmers who are having these stocks we still have a challenge in terms of information and data so that we can give them business,” he added.
Ministry of Agriculture has suspended Onion imports following the revelation by Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) that Onions worth K23 million risk going to waste due to the continued importation of the commodity.