Government has tightened the issuing of import permits for agricultural produce in order to plug leakages of foreign currency.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development is tightening restrictions on imports permits to prevent unnecessary purchase of foreign produce.

Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made told ZBC News the ministry’s economics and markets department will not be entertaining application in various areas, particularly grain.

“Please don’t apply anyhow, we won’t give you permits because we don’t have foreign currency. You have to consider yourself is this really necessary. If you are an importer focus on the farmer so that they increase production,” he said.

Regarding grain, Minister Made said all grain imports have been suspended and millers will buy grain from the Grain Marketing Board and remit payments direct to treasury.

“All grain millers will be paying direct to Treasury, its a cabinet decision. We are happy with this, remember Treasury has been putting resources and its government that is responsible for the strategic grain reserve,” says Minister Made.

The new payment model will also be introduced for cotton with all companies set to buy cotton from Cottco as government moves to re-establish the monopoly of Cottco.