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‘We’ve got you covered’

Vegetable producers confident as winter approaches

As the cold sets in and the winds of winter approach, Botswana Horticulture Council (BoHoCo) are confident local farmers are in good shape to supply the market with seasonable vegetables in the months ahead.

At the beginning of the year, Botswana imposed a two-year ban on the importation of several veggies, including favourites like potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots and cabbage.

Although the country’s farmers initially struggled to meet demand, with widespread shortages hitting supermarkets and street sellers alike, the situation, while still far from perfect, has at least stabilised.

However, according to BoHoCo Chairperson, Sekgabo Ramatu, they do not anticipate any problems feeding the nation off the land this winter.

“Expectation is that there will be normal supply throughout. You can see even for commodities like potatoes, cabbage which were lacking early this year, the market is getting supplied. In the past, the only commodity which has given us a problem is tomatoes but we are hoping for the best,” she declared.

Vegetables harvested in Botswana in winter are predominantly of the leafy variety, including: cabbage, rape, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and tomatoes.

Encouraging the country’s farmers to work together, Ramatu added, “As producers we should unite and even consult each other on the vegetables one farmer is growing. This is to avoid flooding the market with one product.”

Explaining why there has been a spike in vegetable prices despite most of the green stuff now being exclusively home-grown, Ramatu told Voice Money, “I also urge Batswana to trust us as producers because we are here to service them. Sometimes they say we are expensive but this is just influenced by the fact that we get most of our inputs outside the country.”

Recent figures from Statistics Botswana suggests that on an annual basis, local retailers import vegetables in excess of P100 million. The numbers show that in the month of September 2021 alone, P24 million worth of veg was brought into the country.