KATIMA MULILO - Fruit traders in Zambezi region have accused the ministry of agriculture of crippling their businesses, after the ministry allegedly issued a directive forbidding the export of fruits particularly mangoes from Zambia to other parts of Namibia.
The directive states, “It was brought to the attention of the ministry that there are traders importing mango fruits from Zambia into Namibia through Wenela border post. Such produce may introduce Fruit Fly (Bactorocera dorsalis) in the country, and may result in high losses and negatively affect export of locally produced fruits. Namibia has fruit-free fly areas that need to be protected.
As part of the ministry’s efforts to implement mitigation measures and to reduce the spread on Fruit Fly, people will be required to obtain import permits from Plant Health Division for mangoes to be consumed within the Zambezi region. The imported mango fruits must be accompanied by a valid original import permit upon arrival at the border post and within the control points in the region.”
The directive however does not clarify whether mangoes can be transported to other parts of the country or not. However, speaking to this reporter, some of the mango farmers and traders stressed that they were informed by officials from the ministry that mangoes are to be sold and consumed only in Zambezi region, which they say is discriminatory and disadvantages local mango farmers.
“Our main concern is that the directive allows the importation of mangoes from Zambia, yet it is not allowed to cross over to other parts of Namibia,” said one of the mango farmers Alfred Lutaka.
He further stated that he has his own mango orchard, but he says locally produced mangoes are also not allowed to cross through the Kongola security check point.
“Why is Katima always sidelined? It looks to me as if they want to benefit the South African market as their mangoes are all over the shops in Namibia, yet we are not allowed to sell our own local produced mangoes to other parts of the country,” said Lutaka. His sentiments were shared by a trader who questioned the sense in allowing the importation of mangoes from Zambia, if they cannot be allowed to be transported to other parts of the country. “If they say the mangoes from Zambia can cause Fruit Fly, why not ban the importation completely, instead of clearing it at the border only to be sold in Zambezi. Does that mean Zambezi is resistant from the said Fruit Fly, or is Zambezi not part of Namibia?” she questioned.
Another trader Cecilia Sampaya accused government of robbing the poor. “I paid N$6 000 in custom duties for my 100 bags of mangoes at the border, only to come and be told the mangoes can no longer be transported beyond the Zambezi region. They are telling us to sell the mangoes in Zambezi, but there is no market here, as mangoes are already a lot,” she stated.
Public Relations Officer in the ministry of agriculture, Jona Musheko denied that people are not allowed to transport mangoes beyond the Zambezi region.
“I am not aware of that and I don’t think that is coming from our ministry. If the mangoes are coming from Zambezi, they can be transported to other parts of the country, if they are coming from Zambia and people have permits, they are also allowed to be transported to other parts of the country, because Zambezi is part of Namibia,” explained Musheko.