An agriculture spat is brewing between South Africa and Botswana over the restriction placed on certain horticultural commodities. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said Minister Thoko Didiza had expressed concern at the restrictions on imports extended by the Botswana Government.
“Minister Didiza’s concern is about the negative impact this will have on bilateral trade between the two countries. The minister will seek an urgent meeting with her Botswana counterpart in order to raise her concerns and further listen to her colleague on what may be the underlying concerns that has made Botswana to take this move,” a statement read.
Didiza raised South Africa's concerns during the Southern African Customs Union Summit in July. There was hope that a broader bilateral engagement would take place between agriculture and trade ministers of two countries to clarify the reason for this move from Botswana.
“We hope that the engagements will assist in resolving this challenge for the benefit of our countries and industry,” Didiza said
The import restrictions are on tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, peppers, butternut, water melons, sweet peppers, green mealies and fresh herbs. The restrictions, which should’ve ended on December 31, have now been extended for another two years, until December 31, 2025.
“The scope of the restriction has been increased to cover the following additional products: patty pan, pumpkin, sweet potato, green peas, sweet corn, broccoli, cauliflower, gem squash, baby marrow, green beans, sweet melon, mushroom, calabash, spanspek, eggplant and okra. The effective date for the import restriction for the additional products listed above is July 1, 2024 until December 31, 2025. The grace period is to give farmers time to plant so that local produce can be available by the time the restriction commences” a statement from the Botswana government read.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Reggie Ngcobo said: “We made contact, and a formal one. They have not responded to our request. They have not confirmed anything.”
Independent Media contacted the spokesperson of Botswana’s Ministry of Agriculture, who despite undertaking to provide comment, failed to do so.