It’s happening!

I regularly attack politicians and their bedfellows, and highlight the damage they’re causing to SA’s fresh produce markets.

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I don’t get any pleasure out of this, but it would be seriously remiss of me if I didn’t bring the results of their appalling mismanagement to the attention of farmers and other role players in the sector. And it’s wonderful to now report that some things are changing for the better, as various initiatives by senior business and public leaders seek to address the many serious challenges facing markets. After years of stumbling along in the dark, the fresh produce markets sector could well be on its way to reclaiming its rightful place as a key part of the agricultural landscape.

It won’t happen overnight, and there’s a long road strewn with obstacles ahead. But, with people of good intent leading the way, the obstacles will start to disappear. Like all great things ‘under construction’ this movement to improve the markets has to start with the small things first. We have to go back to basics and do what’s needed at ground level to build a solid foundation for the bigger things later on.

One example: markets need to clean their premises and surrounds, and get rid of all that disgusting filth. This simple act will make a world of difference. Also, some market agents are still living in the past and think they have the right to treat customers (buyers) any way they wish. For them rudeness is almost a norm, but in our modern society this is unacceptable, and they should either change their attitudes, or change their jobs! Dinosaur mentalities aren’t needed on a modern fresh produce market.

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Positive changes
I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing at first hand some positive changes, as certain market managers have realised that, unless something is done, their respective ‘ships’ are going to sink. These people are key players. They are the link between private enterprise and the politicians. They are the people who cannot only help open doors, but can play an influential role in getting the right messages across. I have no doubt it will take a lot of ‘blood, sweat and tears’, but the road ahead for fresh produce markets hasn’t looked so good in more than 50 years!

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