It’s raining potatoes at the Johannesburg market, says David Nel, potato specialist at Grow BothaRoodt agents. “We have plenty of potatoes, but at the same time we have the demand to take it away. Yesterday night 230,000 10kg bags were offloaded at the market and that’s a lot. However, it’s a peak time in terms of demand and currently we sell over 240,000 per day. Demand is very good because Botswana re-opened its borders last week.”
Botswana sporadically closes its borders to fresh produce imports like potatoes, tomatoes and onions from South Africa to protect its domestic producers.
Local Botswana potatoes have finished and buyers have resumed buying potatoes in South Africa since the borders were re-opened last week Wednesday. Thursday was a public holiday in South Africa but since last Friday, David says, potato business has been brisk.
“It’s a big factor for us when the Botswana border opens,” he explains. “Botswana and Mozambique take significant amounts of South Africa’s potatoes. Mozambique doesn’t close its border as there is no domestic potato production.”
Potatoes: best nutrition for the price
Potatoes are coming in from many areas at the moment, which spreads the risk in case of rain: from Petrusburg in the Free State, Vryburg in Northwest Province, Randfontein and Tarlton in Gauteng, Winterton, Bergville, Greytown and Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal as well as the last potatoes from Limpopo.
He considers potato prices to be very fair at the moment. High quality potatoes obtain between R5 (0.31 euro) and R6 (0.38 euro) a kilogram which is a very good price for a producer and a fair price for the consumer.
“You won’t get the same nutrition at that price anywhere,” he remarks. “The potato market is going very well at the moment, particularly this week.”