The four pillars of the fresh produce market

Market management and agents. Infrastructure. Farmers. Buyers. These are the four pillars of the fresh produce market.

All are interconnected; none can function successfully in isolation. Managing the market involves ensuring that all facilities and systems are in place and operating effectively – a tall order, given the complexity of a modern fresh produce market.

Keeping everything operating at peak efficiency, meeting exacting standards of safety and hygiene, and having well-trained, motivated staff all take serious commitment from the market’s owners.

The increased interference of politics in our markets since 1994 (it has always been there to some degree, unfortunately) only makes things tougher. Political jealousies and machinations mean that bureaucracy flourishes while free market dynamics and proven business principles suffer. Under the current dispensation, we have a serious problem with our markets.

A marketing system to be proud of
Market agents make up the other half of the first pillar. As we know, they represent the producers through the commission sales system. This set-up is unique in the world, and it’s well worth protecting. It provides farmers with the purest form of price determination for their fresh produce. And for good measure, the law protects their financial interests.

Market infrastructure, the second pillar, should provide a clean, safe environment for efficient sales. This can be achieved, provided the place is managed properly! Yet another reason for taking politics out of the mix.

No easy task
The two remaining pillars – producers and buyers – are equally important. Both groups have other options for selling or buying fruit and vegetables; if the market doesn’t measure up, they simply move away. It has been happening for years.
Getting the four pillars aligned is no easy task. But it has been done in the past, so there is no reason – except for political interference – why it cannot be done again.