Some things government can remedy, but many others are simply beyond its ability. Shackled by political masters, our public servants can only do so much – and it has to be in line with current political requirements. They end up stuck between their political masters and the realities out there, spending inordinate amounts of time in meetings – most of which are probably unnecessary – when they should be attending to the real issues.
The effects of this are seen daily at the fresh produce markets. An industry which boasts an annual turnover of almost R10 billion and performs a vital function for the nation is hampered by ignorance and incompetence in the higher echelons of municipal and government control.
But how can we continue to expect government to address problems in our sector when it hasn’t done so for 30 years or more?The only help government should be giving markets is funding upgrades and modernisation – preferably without interference. Instead, it falls for some claptrap from somebody about building markets for emerging farmers. After many millions have been spent, most of these markets have either closed down or are wobbling along on a painful path to self-destruction.
Where’s the government now? Nowhere in sight; too busy frying bigger fish! You can’t exclude government – I’m not advocating that – but let’s get some perspective and keep our reliance on it to a minimum. Government is continually reminding us it doesn’t have sufficient funds for this or that. Let’s accept this – with the measure of scepticism it deserves – and find other ways to address the challenges in our industry.
The longer we wait for government aid, the more likely it is our markets will grind to a halt. Positive signs in the fresh produce markets sector – some small, others large – show the sector knows it can’t wait for government or any other outside intervention. We have to do things ourselves – and quickly!
Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.