In an effort to make agricultural knowledge and marketing tools more widely – and cheaply – available, the Department of Agriculture has launched an online database containing information on aspects such as pricing, legislation and marketing.
K nown as the Agricultural Marketing Information System (Amis), the database, which can be freely accessed by the public, contains daily commodity prices, qualities and quantities of produce sold on every fresh produce market in the country, grading and packing legislation and pictorial information kits on basic agricultural marketing, auctioneering and grading (available in all 11 official languages).
Information is presented on dynamic maps which indicate the location of all fresh produce markets, millers, abattoirs, ginners and grain silos across SA. There is also a quarterly agricultural economic review and forecast report as well as an electronic library containing useful literature. Speaking at the official launch of Amis, land and agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana (right) explained it was designed to alleviate the lack of information and provide a system whereby farmers could make informed decisions. “The ability of farmers to respond intelligently to the production and marketing challenges rests on their ability to access, interpret and apply the basic agricultural marketing information in their agribusinesses. “It has, however, been observed that the fees charged for accessing the required information is, in most instances, prohibitively high and not affordable, particularly to resource-poor farmers, thus leaving them with no option but to dispose of their produce at uneconomic prices,” she said.
A ccording to Bigman Maloa, head of the Limpopo agriculture department, only 0,01% of emerging farmers – the intended beneficiaries of the system – have access to a computer and the internet. He said he hoped there would be field officers who would provide access to this database, as well as help interpret it. – Gwenda van Zyl Visit http://www.agis.agric.za.