The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) have dispelled ascension that there is a shortage of potatoes on the market. Zambia National Farmers Union Spokesperson Kelvin Kaleyi noted that the country still has enough locally produced potatoes on the market.
“We would like to dispel this notion that there is a shortage of potatoes on the market, because what has happened is the normal trend that normally happens towards the end of the year, so, when you go round you will find that other outlets have other while other outlets do not have the potatoes because normally during this period that’s when you find that people who don’t consume potatoes on a daily basis are now consuming the potatoes as they prepare for the festive season celebrations,” he said
“And that’s not all, there’s a chain in the demand for potatoes not that the market doesn’t have potatoes, the market has adequate potatoes. What we have seen is that there is increase of potatoes coming from Tanzania with a low price and most of these are not even going through the correct channel such as the check points on the borders where they are supposed to be inspected and cleared,” Mr Kaleyi added
Mr Kaleyi highlighted this in response to the assentions that there is a shortage of potatoes on the market.
Meanwhile, the Fruits and Vegetable Association President Bernard Sikunyongana has advised the potato producers to prioritise local demand instead of rushing to export.
Mr Sikunoyangana stated that the government’s ban on the importation of potatoes was to ensure that the locally grown potatoes are on the local market, adding that it is sad that potato producers have decided to defy government’s directive by exporting the commodity leaving out the country with nothing.
“By stopping the traders, us importers to import potatoes had given them an opportunity to sale potatoes to the entire country and be able to make money and be able to export, meaning what we are supposed to be looking at is that as a country can they increase their production, today South Africa is exporting potatoes to Zambia and all over the region, but the question is are they exporting everything and they are not selling in their own country or is their at anytime that country had a shortage of potatoes? The answer is no, so, as you produce and when you have seen that the demand has increased for export, you have to increase the production than denying your own country by just concentrating on exporting, to me thats not a good idea,” he explained
He noted that the government has already given the potato producers an opportunity by stopping the importation, because there is stiff competition when the importation is allowed that might lead to the locals having a challenge, an opportunity has been given by the government that they will not allow the importation of potatoes, so, locals should increase the potato production so that there’s no cry again from the traders to say can the government allow the importation of potatoes.
Mr Sikunoyangana has since called on the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) to come on board and have an emergency meeting to resolve these issues, adding that when the importation of potatoes was being banned, there where meetings held that led to issues being resolved, where it was agreed that as long as the local farmers are producing enough potatoes, importation of the commodity will not be allowed.
“Because the cry has been, when you import, people will run for the imported potatoes and abandoned the locally produced potatoes, and now that we are producing export quality, farmers should also look into saying that locally there must be potatoes to supply to the country and then that’s when they can start to export,” Mr Sikunoyangana said