Ask your market agent

Have you ever spoken to your market agent about his or her ‘legitimacy’ as a commission salesperson?

In other words, has this person successfully completed the required training as stipulated by the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (Apac), and registered with Apac as a ’fresh produce commission salesperson’? Is he or she working for a market agency registered with Apac and therefore carrying a Fidelity Fund Certificate issued by that body? And is this market agency in turn a member of the Institute of Market Agents of South Africa (Imasa)?

It is your right, even responsibility – as a fresh produce grower to establish these basic criteria when dealing with a market agent. They are there to ensure that farmers enjoy the protection accorded them by the Agricultural Produce Agents Act. Act 12 of 1992. Let’s consider the four criteria I’ve listed:

Training
The Imasa/Apac Skills Development Programme is based on four pillars: ethics, skills, knowledge, and professionalism.
A market agent must successfully complete a three-module course to be registered with Apac as a fresh produce commission salesperson.

Registration
The Act requires every person wishing to work as a fresh produce commission salesperson to register with Apac and complete the process described above. For its part, Apac can conduct background checks on an applicant to ensure legitimacy.

Fidelity Fund Certificate
The Act requires any business wishing to trade as a market agency to register with the Apac. If the application is successful, a Fidelity Fund Certificate is issued, which is effectively a ‘licence’ to trade.

Imasa
Membership of Imasa is entirely voluntary. It represents 80% of all market agents and was the originator of training for them. It works closely with Apac to ensure that the four pillars mentioned above are upheld by its members. These requirements are there for one reason: to protect the producer’s financial interests. Act 12 is unique to South Africa and a fresh produce grower has every right to ask to see their market agent’s ‘licence’.