BOTSWANA – Botswana has announced that it would extend and expand restrictions on imports of some fresh produce from South Africa as it tries to become self-sufficient in food and cut its import bill.

According to Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi the already imposed import ban has slashed the country’s fresh-produce import bill by 71%.

Botswana, together with Namibia, extended its end December 2023 deadline to 2025. The number of products will double to 32, from July 2024.

Among the staples impacted will be potatoes, tomatoes and onions which are among the largest commodities affected.

While it could be good news for South African consumers, as the ban could lead to cheaper products at home, Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza is looking to engage with her Botswana counterpart as the government says that this is in contravention of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) trade agreement with other southern African neighbors.

The agricultural sector in drought-prone Botswana is relatively small, accounting for about 5% of economic output, with local farmers squeezed by cheaper imports from South Africa, according to reports.

South Africa supplied about 80% of the country’s food before the two-year ban was initially implemented from January 2022.

Meanwhile, according to our previously published news article, the government of Botswana has taken several measures to increase local production of fresh produce.

To build resilience in food supply chains and reliable domestic production that will help improve food security and self-sufficiency, the government has developed an incentive package.

This package can be accessed through the National Development Bank (NDB) and includes an Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), seasonal loans, etc., to attract investors and to improve commercial viability in the sector.

In addition, the Integrated Support Program for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD), was reviewed to address challenges facing farmers and the low productivity in the arable sub-sector. 

The components of the new program include cluster fencing, provision of potable water, seeds, and fertilizers, facilitation of access to credit, and establishment of Agricultural Service Centers across the country.

The fresh produce sector in Botswana is expected to grow in the coming years. According to Statista Market Forecast, the revenue in the fresh fruits market is expected to reach USD388.40m by 2023 and grow annually by 8.56% (CAGR 2023-2028). 

The volume of fresh fruits market is expected to amount to 211.80m kg by 2028, with volume growth of 4.4% in 2024. The average volume per person in the fresh fruit market is expected to amount to 69.9kg in 2023.

The fresh vegetables market in Botswana is also expected to grow. The market is projected to grow by 9.36% (2023-2028) resulting in a market volume of USD788.30m in 2028.

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