COUNTING LOSSES: Fruit vendors have incurred the worst loss
One big impact of the import restrictions on fruits and vegetables into the country from either Zimbabwe or South Africa could be on the confidence of the Ministry of Agriculture in dealing with the outbreak of the ravaging Asian Fruit Fly with fruit vendors calculating losses.
Early in June this year, the Ministry of Agriculture warned of an Asian Fruit Fly outbreak in the northeastern part of the country.
And immediately, the ministry imposed some restrictions to prevent the deadly fly from spreading to other parts of the country.
Furthermore, the ministry quarantined farms and banned imports following the outbreak of the deadly fruit fly at Botalana, Fairfield and Seleka alongside AR5 farms in the Tuli Block area in the eastern part of this diamond rich nation.
The development has resulted in a serious shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables in Francistown and the surrounding areas.
Fruit vendors have been hit hard by the development. They claim that they have got no stock to run their businesses.
“My sales have dropped significantly and this has affected my daily takings,” said Maria Mooketsi, who operates her vending business at the Nswazwi parking lot near the Francistown bus rank.
Mooketsi said she has lost about P150 since the Asian Fruit Fly outbreak.
She is worried that her hopes of raising school development fees for her three children have vanished.
Laiza Ndochi said some of their customers have since deserted them because “mine was a one-stop shop” where once would find all sorts of vegetables and fruits under one roof.
Ndochi said customers do not want to move from one stall to another buying fruits. Usually they want to come and find their order readily available, she said.
She claimed that she has been selling at least ten bags each day.
Ndochi said most customers are now buying at big retail shops with the financial capacity to order from farms outside the country.
Botswana currently imports at least 34 000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to supplement the 41 000 tonnes produced locally on annual basis.
The national demand for fruits and vegetables is 75 000 tonnes annually.
Geoffrey Pheko, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture stated that though the government is aware of the need for fruits, controlling the pest is of paramount importance.
Pheko said the farms will remain under quarantine and the ban would go on for an indefinite period until the fly has been successfully put under control.
As long as the fruit fly has been put under control, vendors will continue counting losses.