At the same time that Botswana is working toward being self-sufficient in food and reducing its import bill, the country announced on December 5, 2023, that it will extend and strengthen restrictions on importing products from South Africa.
According to Botswana’s President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, the import embargo has resulted in a 71% reduction in the country’s total expenditure for the importation of fresh food.
Together with Namibia, Botswana has decided to push back its deadline from the end of December 2023 to 2025. Beginning in July 2024, the number of items will increase to 32.
Potatoes, tomatoes, and onions, among the most significant commodities that will be impacted, will be among the standard foods that will be impacted.
As the Botswana government asserts that this violates the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) trade agreement with other southern African neighbors, Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza is looking to engage with her Botswana counterpart. Even though the ban may benefit South African consumers, it may result in cheaper products being sold within the country.
According to sources, the agricultural industry in Botswana, which is prone to drought, is very tiny, accounting for around 5% of the country’s total economic production. These reports indicate that cheaper imports are squeezing local farmers from South Africa.
Before the two-year embargo was enacted, beginning in January 2022, South Africa supplied around 80 percent of the country’s food supply.