Project Rebirth going forward

Readers will recall my regular updates on Project Rebirth. Launched by the Institute of Market Agents of South Africa (Imasa) at its 2011 AGM, it seeks to facilitate the upgrading and improvement of the country’s fresh produce markets.

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As the task team moved around South Africa, it became clear that things were ‘hotting up’ and markets were receiving new attention from their owners. The department of agriculture has now taken over the project, and the tempo has been maintained, with the department inviting all role players in the fresh produce sector to an indaba to discuss the way forward and appoint a steering committee. By now the committee would have held its first meeting.

It can expect busy times ahead. The word is getting around that markets can approach the department of agriculture for assistance and funding, and market people are responding accordingly. I hope that substantial funds are available, because this is what we have been saying for many years: to get South Africa’s markets back on track is going to take a huge amount of money.

Project Rebirth was always meant to be a government responsibility and Imasa is delighted to continue supporting the initiative wherever it can. Unfortunately, with the best will and financial help in the world there is little hope of success if the two main parties on markets – management and market agents – don’t roll up their sleeves and put their shoulders to the wheel. Infrastructure and other improvements will have little meaning if these two groups allow old habits to continue.
A dramatic mindset change is required and customer service in its truest form will be needed, as re-establishing credibility with producers and buyers is crucial.

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Regaining market share
Given those two essentials, combined with new, improved facilities, the markets will at last be in a position to render the kind of service to our country that they should be doing. And in the process, there is no reason why they should not regain some of that market share they have been shedding over the years. In the interests of South Africa, the agriculture sector and the crucial role played by the commission system on markets, I wish this initiative every success.

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