Eswatini bans tomato imports due to overproduction

 Eswatini bans tomato imports due to overproduction

Eswatini bans tomato imports due to overproduction.

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The Kingdom of Eswatini has suspended all tomatoes coming from other countries with effect from Monday, September 6, 2021 due to oversupply.

The country normally imports up to 1 500 metric tonnes valued at US$500 000 per annum.

The imports were higher than usual in the past six months due to tropical storm Eloise which affected countries including Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Eswatini, killing a total 27 people and causing damage estimated at US$10 million.

In the first few months after the cyclone, tomato prices rose steeply due to very scarce supplies as some of the neighbouring countries had also suffered the effects of the storm in crop production.

The National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBoard) said the ban was necessitated by the overproduction of tomatoes by local farmers, which has satisfied all the market demand.

“Following the current over supply we will be limiting the importation of tomatoes from the 6th  September 2021 until further notice. In keeping with practice, retailers are advised to intensify their sourcing from local farmers and consumers are encouraged to increase their intake of this vegetable because of their high nutritional value and health benefits,” NAMBoard Communications Officer Melusi Dlamini said during an interview.

He said there was not specific timeframe for the suspension, as the Board would be informed by the production patterns. “We shall continue to monitor the situation very closely to ensure that limits are reviewed immediately the volumes fall below the set threshold.”Dlamini said the markets are encouraged to visit and all farmers are advised to update their production records on the AMIS website so that the relevant data was collected to assist in policy formulation.

He said it was important for all farmers to register and upload information regarding their plantings, forecast harvesting yields and dates.

“This will assist NAMBoard with gathering the key evidence needed to limit importation of those crops or animal products which are projected to be in over supply locally. Farmers are encouraged to take full advantage of our marketing extension service by standing in touch with the market extension officers in their region,” he said.

He said market officers were now tasked with helping farmers make good economic decisions on the production and markerting of their produce by playing the role of being a conduit for transmitting market related information to farmers.

The information that is needed will notify on price trends, production innovations, future demand, changes in consumer preferences and further training opportunities.

“They also assist farmers to make informed production decisions, prime of which is production according to market requirements, including product specifications, varieties, time of planting and profitability of selected crops.”

As a result of climate change, the NAMBoard is developing Natural Disaster Strategies aimed at highlighting the possible risk mitigation tactics applicable to the local farmer which will be incorporated in the five-year Climate Change Initiative plan.

“We are doing an in-depth analysis of the impact of natural disasters experienced recently by the horticulture sector and how best the sector can prepare for them going forward. Farming systems and technology, particularly in the context of future demand for food and other agricultural products for increased income generation for farmers are being discussed,” Dlamini said.

Bonisile Makhubu

Bonisile Makhubu is a senior journalist at The Times of Swaziland Group of Newspapers, a company she has worked for over a period of 15 years now. She is based in the Eswatini News department which publishes the Saturday paper. She is also assistant Eswatini News Editor. In this department, she also ran the consumer watch column which focuses on consumer issues. Her specialty is investigative writing and reporting on health, education, women, and children’s issues, even though she has previously worked for the community news department and daily news department where she reported on courts, crime, and general news. She currently holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Eswatini and has attended a series of training programs on investigative journalism, reporting for SADC, and digital and online reporting. I have covered four SADC summits throughout the region. I have also traveled for short training and assignments in countries such as the US, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa while carrying out my duty as a journalist. Bing a mother of three children has also motivated her to remain dedicated to being the voice of the voiceless and to hold the public accountable and present truthful and educational information to the readers at all times.

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