Lesotho temporarily bans import of apples

Lesotho temporarily bans import of apples

MASERU-THE government is imposing a temporary ban on the import of apples into Lesotho until after the country’s supply has been exhausted.
Minister of Agriculture Tefo Mapesela confirmed the development saying the ministry will announce the decision before the end of the week.

“The memo was supposed to have been issued on Monday. However, the public will know about such a memo before the end of the week,” Mapesela said.
“This is still the ministry’s effort to protect local producers by giving their products preference, and by so doing enabling them to penetrate markets that were previously not accessible to them.”

The temporary restriction is meant to help local farmers sell all their produce before the season ends to avoid spoilage.
According to Nthako Supu, the Farm Manager of Likhothola Fruit Farm at Likhetlane and Maoa-Mafubelu fruit farms in Leribe, there has been a significant increase in the farm produce this year.

“We believe that good rains and good agricultural methods have played a significant role that resulted in high yields, especially from Likhetlane and Maoa-Mafubelu,” Supu told thepost in a telephonic interview.
This year Supu indicated that they have 374 tons of various varieties from Royal Gala to Top Red, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith.
“We have seen great support from Basotho and appreciate it greatly,” Supu said.

“This year thus far we are only supplying local shops like Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Fruits and Veges, unlike previously when we also exported to the likes of Woolworths Foods in South Africa,” Supu said.
He said they are also now supplying fruit and vegetable outlets in Mokhotlong.

“For the first time this year we supplied Mokhotlong, we have new customers like Enrich and some fruit and veggies outlets in Maseru,” he said.
He however said although support has been great there is still a lot of produce at the farms.

“We started harvesting peaches in November and apples in January but we still have lots of apples,” he said.
“Our produce is of high quality as we produce Grade A and grade B, even our grade C is of good quality.”
He pleaded with Basotho to continue buying and eating apples so that most of the produce does not get spoiled.

“I think we will harvest up to the end of March and due to storage facility challenges we harvest per order to give clients the freshest produce.”
“However,” he said, “we do fear that we might make a huge loss if orders do not come in high volumes.”
He said a ban on apple imports will go a long way to support local farmers.
“However, what is more important is for locals to buy and eat the apples, after all an apple a day keeps the doctor away. The ban will not be helpful if consumers are not consuming the produce.”

He said that grade A is mostly consumed by supermarkets and retailers while grade B and C are mostly consumed by street vendors.
“Our wish is for these products to be consumed countrywide and for all to know that every year around this time that we will be there to supply them with our produce.”

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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