Give credit where it’s due

Since it opened six or seven years ago, I have had a love-hate relationship with the Kei Fresh Produce Market (KFPM) in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

In the beginning, I wished the facility well. But since then, I’ve watched the market sink into the abyss of poor management, indifference and incompetence. From time to time, I and others tried to help, but to no avail. When the current market manager took over in an acting capacity a couple of years ago, small signs of improvement began to appear. Things were still in a mess, but at least it looked as if he had the will to do something about it.

On a visit to the market late last year, he proudly showed me a potato washing and packing facility which had been erected next to the market building at a cost of about R3 million. I wrote about it in this column and said priorities had gone askew. The idea behind the facility was to provide a service to local small-scale potato farmers.

It had a daily capacity of 6 000 pockets and I had my doubts about the viability of such a venture. It was a good idea, but I believed much-needed infrastructure maintenance should have happened first. In January I spent a week conducting training sessions at the KFPM and market manager Raymond Ngqeleni announced that the facility was up and running.

Walking through the facility I saw staff industriously going about the business of washing, sorting, packing and palletising pockets of potatoes. Outside stood a 5t truck with a load of potatoes in large bags. The proud farmer was there as well, eager to watch his potatoes go through the process.

I was impressed. It’s early days yet and the potato washing facility will no doubt have its share of teething problems – but, for now, everybody involved deserves congratulations. If management runs this service the way it should be done, then it could be a winner.
Give credit where it’s due, but now let’s get back to those maintenance issues!

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