Now’s the time!

While I’m on a roll about the positive developments taking place on markets, there’s another issue which I believe needs attention in the sector.

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I wrote about this a couple of years ago, but it seems I was somewhat premature – most role players weren’t ready for such a large step into the ‘unknown’.

Umbrella body
Now that we have a new-found spirit of co-operation permeating through the industry, isn’t it time to take the next logical step by harnessing all that goodwill and converting it into an ‘umbrella body’ representing all the fresh produce markets?
Surely an industry with a turnover of more than R10 billion per annum and playing such a vital role in our country’s food security deserves to have a representative organisation which can lead the way?

I’m not proposing any kind of ‘control board’ – regular readers will know my standpoint on that. I’m saying the industry needs to have ‘one voice’ when it sits down with government and other national bodies. It needs representatives of high calibre and goodwill who can put its case forward where it counts.

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“What about the Ministerial Interim Committee Report on Fresh Produce Markets?” I hear you ask. “Didn’t that propose the establishment of a ‘super body’ overseeing all the markets?” It did, but there’s one fundamental difference. It would be a statutory body run by bureaucrats. And, again, readers will know my feelings on such organisations, where the entire culture and modus operandi differs hugely from private, business-related establishments.

I’m proposing a voluntary association made up of constituent member organisations such as the SA Union of Food Markets, the Institute of Market Agents of SA and grower organisations. These entities wouldn’t lose their independence, but when it comes to national issues they’ll don their ‘umbrella organisation hats’ and speak as one.

Attempts to form such an association in the past have failed, but haven’t times changed? As management consultant Bill Gibson says: “If not now, when? If not me, who? If not this way, then which way?” We have leaders in the various organisations which make up the fresh produce markets sector who are showing they can focus on what’s best for all.
This is why I believe the time is now. And the reason is simple – survival.

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