Co-operation works!

I was paging through the archives of the Institute of Market Agents of SA (IMASA) the other day when I came across the minutes of a joint meeting of the executive committees of IMASA and the Institute of Market Masters of SA (IMMSA) held 25 years ago, on 19 October 1987.

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It was clear there was a lot of common ground between them and a need for co-operation. It sounds as if I’m stating the obvious, especially when one considers that the organisations were both born in Bloemfontein one year apart – IMASA in 1945 and IMMSA in 1946, and they’ve had many years in which to build a co-operative culture between themselves.

Common practice
I wasn’t able to dig deeper to establish how far back co-operation existed between them, but it was common practice in those days for the members of each organisation to attend the AGM of the other. But those good intentions, which were recorded in 1987, floundered somewhere along the line. In the past year, things changed again, though, when executive members of both organisations attended each other’s AGM.

On 23 August, IMASA and the renamed SA Union Of Food Markets (SAUFM) will host a joint panel discussion on the future of markets after the Produce Marketing Association’s annual conference at the University of Pretoria. This is a huge step in the right direction for the fresh produce markets sector. Farmers and buyers who have lost heart with markets over the years will do well to watch these developments, because they’re the start of bigger and better things to come for the beleaguered sector.

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Gathering momentum
It won’t happen overnight, but there’s a powerful groundswell of goodwill and co-operation at grass roots level between market managements, agents and other role players which is pushing the upgrading of a number of markets. This force is gathering momentum as I write and will grow in strength and stature.

As markets improve we’ll see a reversal of the trend of farmers supplying direct to buyers outside of the markets. Both groups will return as they begin to see the benefits in store for them on a market. And one of those of benefits will be the concentration of more sellers and buyers on the market floor.

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.