By Robert Tapfumaneyi
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, John Mangudya says the country was wasting a lot of scarce foreign currency through importing carrots and potatoes, among things that could be produced locally.
Mangudya said it was disheartening that a country with many dams which were full of water throughout the year could find itself importing such produce.
In 2018 alone, Zimbabwe imported US$6.3 billion worth of goods.
Presenting his Monetary Policy statement focusing on Price and Exchange Rate Stability in Harare Monday, Mangudya said the central bank was now focusing on import substitution strategies.
“Our potential is greater than the real or actual output being realised in this country; so that gap is very wide and that gap is somehow causing some of the challenges we are experiencing in this country, because we do not have production which is good enough to sustain consumption,” Mangudya said.
“We import everything. Zimbabwe needs to learn to feed itself, we need to plan for the drought so that at the end of the day, we minimise usage of foreign currency on things that we should produce.
“You are aware that we are importing maize, we are importing meat, we are importing cooking oil, and we are also importing in some of the shops carrots, potatoes, everything.
“Yet Zimbabwe can be self-sustaining on its own product and therefore, that’s why we are advocating import substitution strategies, so that at the end of the day, we do not import that which can be produced in this country.”
RBZ governor added, “If you are producing wheat for consumption, which is sufficient for three months and nine months, we are importing, and yet we have dams full of water. We have to ensure that we maximise the use of that water and become more focused on that import substitution strategy.
“What does it do, it helps us to conserve our foreign currency instead of…importing jobs, we need to produce jobs, and jobs here.
“We need to work hard as a country; so, we need to identify the strategies so that the output gap is minimised.
Reports say Zimbabwe imported US$6.3 billion worth of goods from international suppliers in 2018 alone and 50% of that was from fellow African countries.
Asian trade partners supplied 38.7%, 9.1% from European nations with smaller percentages from North America (1.4%), Latin America (0.6) and (0.1%) from Australia.