SADC markets?

A few years ago, there was a flurry of interest from Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana, among others, to establish fresh produce markets.

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At the time, I predicted a change in the marketing of fresh produce within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). As our neighbours developed their capacity for growing crops, they would look to South Africa to sell a large proportion of those crops, I said. With our markets already established, this would make sense to them if they wanted to enjoy the benefits of economies of scale.

We’re seeing this happen as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and even Kenya send produce to the Joburg and Tshwane Markets. Mozambique has become a major supplier of bananas – much to the chagrin of local producers.

What about the other countries?
What happened to the markets that were supposed to be established in these countries, though? Botswana has its Horticultural Market in Gaborone which, from what I gather, has not lived up to expectations. One problem it shares with numerous South African markets is Joburg Market. Big Botswana buyers still travel every week to Joburg and Tshwane to fill their trucks.

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Gaborone is about 400km from Joburg and finds itself in the same position as Bloemfontein, Durban and other regional markets – Joburg dominates and the buyers flock there. In Mozambique, the establishment of a market near Maputo a few years ago reached an advanced stage, until the funding pipeline closed and everything came to a sudden halt. I’ve heard nothing since.

In Namibia, the government started building the first of four markets, in the north of the country. But Namibia only has a population of three million scattered across a vast expanse – that’s a very low density. And buyers from Namibia send their trucks to Joburg (and Cape Town) Market every week.

Good for the region
I would love to see fresh produce markets in our neighbouring countries flourish because it can only be good for the countries and the region as a whole. But, to iterate, Joburg Market looms large and completely dominates the trade in the SADC region.