SA farmers not selling enough fresh produce in Africa

South Africa’s farmers, through the country’s network of fresh produce markets, should be supplying more vegetables to countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Speaking at the Potatoes SA information day, Patrick Mphahlele, executive director of the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market, said this region was a lucrative market.

“There are about 100 million people in this region. It is not a small trading block and we are not exploiting this market to its full capacity,” Mphahlele said.

According to Mphahlele, traders from countries such as Mozambique regularly visited South Africa to buy produce, but imported fresh produce was still sold by sidewalk traders in that country.

“In the streets you see vegetables from Europe. In Nigeria you can buy potatoes from Holland. This tells me that we have not done well to promote our own vegetables in these markets,” he said.

Fresh produce markets such as the one in Tshwane could increase revenue significantly if sales to traders in other African countries could be increased. “I think we are beginning to see more activity from the SADC region,” he said.

The Tshwane market currently has an output of 760 000t/annum, which generated R2,6 billion in turnover. In the next few years the market planned to grow output to one million tons.