Zimbabwe bans fresh fruit, vegetable imports

Harare | Reuters — Zimbabwe has banned imports of fresh fruit and vegetables with immediate effect, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday, arguing that increased local production will meet domestic demand.

The ban will mostly impact supplies of tomatoes, potatoes, mangoes, grapes and apples from neighbouring South Africa, the ministry said in a statement.

South African fruit and vegetable exports to Zimbabwe are worth at least US$1 million a month, according to trade data.

Zimbabwe’s farming output, including from its staple maize crop, has slumped by over 60 per cent since 2000, following seizures of white-owned farms by President Robert Mugabe’s controversial government.

Mugabe said seizing the farms for redistribution to local blacks was to correct colonial injustices.

Critics say Mugabe — in power since independence from Britain in 1980 — turned one of Africa’s most promising economies and a regional breadbasket to a net importer of food.

But Mugabe’s ZANU-PF says the economy, which shrank by over 40 per cent in the decade to 2009, had been sabotaged by Western powers opposed to his nationalist policies.

— Reporting for Reuters by Cris Chinaka in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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