Masvingo Rural District Council has banned the picking of wild fruits for resale without a permit.
The council expressed this in a by-law gazetted on Friday in consultation with the Forestry Commission. Any person who harvests, collects or picks fruits without a harvesting permit issued by the council in consultation with the Forestry Commission will have committed an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 2 or imprisonment not exceeding one month or such fine and imprisonment.
“Council shall impose restrictions on the picking, harvesting of fruits or forest produce for commercial purposes if the council finds it desirable to do so to conserve the environment.
“Any person who fails to abide by the imposed restriction shall have committed an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or such fine and imprisonment.”, reads part of the by-law.
The Communal Forest Produce Act, states that Council shall be notified upon payment of a prescribed fee and maintain a record of people or entities involved in the picking, collection or harvesting of fruit or other forest produce for sale in the council area.
This is likely to come as a huge blow to villagers in the drought-prone Masvingo province who harvest fruits like mazhanje, matamba and matohwe for sale along the Harare-Beitbridge highway.
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