Calls For Lifting Of The Vegetable Import Ban Grow Louder


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The just ended Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) annual Conference laid bare the discontent some sectors of economy have regarding government’s unpopular ban on the importation of some vegetables.

The tourism industry has been at the forefront to condemn the ban which has greatly compromised on its ability to meet the needs of their clients. As a customer satisfaction centric industry, the ban has brought more harm than good – with shortages and low quality vegetables affecting their ability to serve to expected standards.

In fact, one of the resolutions from last year’s HATAB conference was on the need for more consultation on the vegetable import ban, and last week Agriculture minister Fidelis Molao updated the conference on the contentious issue.

Molao informed the conference the decision to implement the ban was taken to protect horticultural farmers who decried lack of market for their produce, while some sectors procured across the borders. He said for farmers to remain motivated, and encouraged to produce more, they have to be assured of the market, which the tourism sector is a part of.

Molao further pleaded with the industry to understand that policies are not made to stifle business growth, but in good faith a cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship.  

Molao said his ministry was currently engaging in a process to review the ban with various stakeholders before it comes to its 2-year period in eight months. He acknowledged government was aware of the negative effects the ban has had across the board among them the shortages, poor quality and the smuggling of vegetables.

He further called for more engagements and consultations for government to make an informed decision on whether the ban remains in force and or lifted when the time comes. Molao, however called on the tourism sector to consider assisting farmers to be better placed to produce the quality that the sector desires for its clientele.

Meanwhile some operators queried why the ban cannot be lifted immediately as it has become clear that the undesired effects were affecting the tourism industry and those in the food business among others. They opined that the tourism industry was customer satisfaction centric, and that makes it even more sensitive.

It also came to light at the Conference that tourists were being searched on arrival at the Maun international airport for possible smuggling of vegetables. This has had a backlash from their client who feel they are treated like criminals. The industry also believes a scanner should rather be installed at the airport instead of physically searching luggage.


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