Imasa turns 70

I recently was in Bloemfontein with the Institute of Market Agents of South Africa (Imasa) to celebrate its 70th birthday.

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Apart from the members of Imasa who have travelled far and wide to be here, a number of highly placed people in government, leading sector organisations and input suppliers were in attendance.

Imasa has been closely involved in the affairs of the markets and the fresh produce sector, but as with most organisations it has had its downturns. There was a time when Imasa was hardly to be seen on the industry’s radar screen as it went through a period of being little more than an ‘old boys’ club.’

This languid state started to change 15 years ago when younger people began taking an active part in the institute. A succession of younger chairpersons unencumbered by ‘tradition’ began to take the lead. The executive committee had a new air of purpose and the organisation even went so far as to appoint a part-time general manager.

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The leadership’s gender and colour mix also changed and a pinnacle was reached at the 2011 AGM when members voted to launch Project Rebirth.

The significance of this project should not be underestimated. The baby has grown into a robust youngster under the parentage of the department of agriculture, and many challenges facing markets are receiving attention.

Imasa has important role to play
It was always going to be prohibitively expensive for Imasa on its own to drive Project Rebirth, and members are grateful to the department for taking over this function. Imasa, however, continues to contribute in many ways.The challenges will never disappear, but as Imasa and other industry role players systematically address them and move on, so the fresh produce markets will continue to take their rightful place in the agricultural mix.

We might not have arrived at Utopia. But in all sincerity: “Happy Birthday, Imasa!”