By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone – Botswana, through its ministry of investment, trade and industry, has imposed a ban on the import of bottled natural and mineral water.
The government has also temporarily suspended imports of tomatoes, potatoes and oranges, among others.
The permanent secretary at the ministry of investment, trade and industry, Peggy Serame, explained that the government has imposed restrictions on the import of bottled natural and mineral water under the Control of Goods, Prices and Other Charges Act.
Serame said the implementation of the regulations would promote the competitiveness and sustainability of the domestic water-bottling sector.
“The move is also intended to stimulate investment in the sector, which could lead to job creation and poverty reduction, she added. The Statutory Instrument No. 44 of 2018 was published in the Government Gazette dated 6th April 2018,” said Serame.
She added that “the instrument prohibits the importation of water packed in bottles of less than 10 litres and, therefore, only allows importation of water packed in bottles of 10 litres and above.”
Serame reiterated that the “implementation of these regulations would promote the competitiveness and sustainability of the domestic water bottling sector, which is a reserved business activity for citizens.”
Furthermore, Serame said it is intended to stimulate investment in the sector, which would, in turn, lead to job creation and poverty reduction. The restriction on the importation of mineral water will take effect on August 1, 2018.
The restriction of imports on mineral and natural bottled water comes a few days after government also placed a ban on the import of beetroot, green pepper, butternut, watermelon, green mealies, among others, last month.
Other restricted crops include tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes.
According to public relations officer in the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Boikhutsho Rabasha, local farmers are producing enough for the local market, hence the decision to close borders on these vegetables.
Rabasha said this will promote and protect local farmers.
The government said it should be noted that other crops are still available locally, hence traders should continue supporting the current producers and product supply monitoring ongoing and traders must continue supporting the current producers adding that traders who ignore the regulations would risk losing their licences.
Reports show that South Africa’s horticultural farmers continue to benefit immensely from Botswana’s inability to produce enough vegetables and fruits to satisfy the local demand.
Despite government’s efforts to come up with measures that could help the country to be self-sufficient, big retailers still cross the border for their vegetables.