How technology can help the fresh produce sector

Markets and market agents throughout South Africa use Freshmark Systems (FS) software to manage their sales and administration.

By Mike Cordes
December 28, 2016 10:00 am

This well-regarded system is unique in the international fresh produce market sector.

At its regular ‘User Group’ conferences, FS introduces the latest technology upgrades and listens to user comments.

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Technologically challenged as I am, I found the most recent conference stimulating and thought-provoking. After attending it, I can appreciate the value that new digital technology brings to the practical side of selling fresh produce.

Perhaps most importantly, IT plays a crucial role in maintaining the highly competitive nature of fresh produce trading – to everyone’s benefit.

Farmers, for example, have instant access to pricing and other marketing data, allowing them to make faster, better-informed decisions. Just as importantly, the sector as a whole can stay abreast of world developments.

Be ready to adopt new technology
Interestingly, when FS launched its revolutionary package 25 years ago, it wasn’t exactly snapped up by the markets. It started on the East London Market and took a decade to gain industry-wide acceptance.

As part of the MICROmega Group, FS is now better positioned than ever to develop new products. What form these will take, I don’t know, but we should all be open to them; avoiding the march of progress is not an option if one wants to remain competitive.

At the conference, Durban market agent, Henk van Vuuren, recalled an amusing incident that took place years ago when emails were just starting to take over from the fax machine.

Henk phoned one of his clients, an elderly farmer, to advise him that in future he would receive his market prices by email. After a brief silence, the farmer replied, “That’s okay, if the emails come by fax!”

Let’s hope that new IT developments for our industry will have a smoother acceptance!

Michael Cordes is an agricultural journalist, consultant, trainer and former farmer.