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Zimbabwe bans fresh fruit, vegetable imports

Source: Reuters - Wed, 2 Apr 2014 14:00 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds South African trade data)

HARARE, April 2 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has banned imports of fresh fruit and vegetables with immediate effect, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday, arguing that increased local production will meet domestic demand.

The ban will mostly impact supplies of tomatoes, potatoes, mangoes, grapes and apples from neighbouring South Africa, the ministry said in a statement.

South African fruit and vegetable exports to Zimbabwe are worth at least $1 million a month, according to trade data.

Zimbabwe's farming output, including from its staple maize crop, has slumped by over 60 percent since 2000, following seizures of white-owned farms by President Robert Mugabe's controversial government.

Mugabe said seizing the farms for redistribution to local blacks was to correct colonial injustices.

Critics say Mugabe -- in power since independence from Britain in 1980 -- turned one of Africa's most promising economies and a regional bread basket to a net importer of food.

But Mugabe's ZANU-PF says the economy, which shrank by over 40 percent in the decade to 2009, had been sabotaged by Western powers opposed to his nationalist policies. (Reporting By Cris Chinaka; Editing by Joe Brock)

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