The recently established steering committee for the upliftment of national fresh produce markets, which is driven by the department of agriculture, is now calling on producers, market agents and market managers to come up with proposals on how they can contribute to the improvement of markets. This is an excellent move.
The upliftment of markets was never going to succeed until the main roleplayers all made their own positive contributions. The tendency has always been to blame market management for the state of markets, but that never addressed the whole issue.
Certainly, market management must shoulder most of the blame because, as municipal entities, most have failed in their duty to provide efficient markets for the benefit of the whole community. But market agents are not off the hook. The arrogance of some – born of an era when producers had few options for marketing their products – created a culture of indifference and entitlement, which they have been slow to shed.
Thankfully, the challenges of today have awoken most of them to the realities of modern fresh produce marketing and they have responded accordingly. Many producers have moved away from supplying the markets to a greater or lesser degree and it’s encouraging to see that the trend seems to be slowing down.
This is what the upliftment of the markets is all about – turning a downward spiral into an upward growth curve. It can only come about if loads of money are pumped into modernising markets, and with that, an improvement in service levels by market owners and market agents to attract producers back into the fold.
The competition from other marketing options will always be there, which is a good thing. It means that market owners and market agents will have to add extra value to their service delivery if they want producers to support them. Embracing a CoC will go a long way towards achieving that.