Informal trade and BEE is presenting its fair share of challenges, and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) is working towards better understanding and solving the problems facing the farming sector.
Deputy chairperson of the NAMC Dora Ndaba said: “When we look at horticulture, livestock and grazing, the problems and the respective strategy plans differ dramatically. When you look at the problem of data capturing in the meat industry for example, the question is, how do you keep track of the number of oxen slaughtered? When cultural aspects come into play, it is near impossible to keep track of the amount of oxen slaughtered for ritualistic and informal trade purposes. With the demand for not only cattle, but also goats and sheep for traditional rituals, a complete informal trade is mushrooming, and nobody is keeping track of it. “The scourge of HIV/Aids has not only fuelled this industry but also created even more opportunities for informal trade. It is not only the meat that is not kept track of, but also the profitable market for the hides. “When we move to poultry, which is again very traditional, it is impossible to know how many chickens are farmed and sold on the informal market, as the majority are not registered with Poultry SA. “The lack of information prevents us from knowing what the true state of affairs is. “The lack of information also causes problems for small upcoming farmers, as they are not recognised as part of the commercial market,” she said. But it is a two-way street. “We must take into account that the informal and small upcoming farmers do not always have access to information on these matters and therefore are not always at fault. Government recognises the educational role and outreach function it has to fulfil in reaching these people and helping them become part of the bigger picture. “We do this through imbizos in the far-off areas of the country; we try and reach people in the little villages around the country,” said Ndaba. NAMC senior manager of the market and economic research centre Prof André Jooste agreed that the second economy’s impact on the first economy influences the marketing of local trade and industry, and prevents informal trade from being properly recognised. “Informal abattoirs account for 30% growth in the meat market and that is a significant number when taking into account that they operate tax-free,” Prof Jooste said. “South Africa is not a country where policies can be applied homogeneously. There are too many sociocultural aspects that need to be understood as well as the institutional and governance dynamics within the different environments linked to the different support systems. “The best way to deal with these differences and the challenges they pose is through regular research by government and directly affected groups,” he said. The NAMC has called on government and affected groups to communicate and to share information. Ndaba said: “That is the only way we will ever have proper information and statistics on the growth of informal agricultural trade in this country.” – Cornelia du Plooy