Transformation status

I recently attended a workshop on the transformation – or lack thereof – that’s taken place in market agencies since government launched its BBBEE requirements.

At first glance, it looks as if the BEE process among market agencies hasn’t fared too well. According to Theresa Fredericks, chairperson of the transformation committee of the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC), and host of the workshop, PDI (previously disadvantaged individual) agencies, as they’re known in the industry, account for around 2,5% of total turnover on all markets. To put that into perspective, there are 19 markets with a total turnover last year of around R10,5 billion. 

This is generated by about 100 market agencies on behalf of their farming clients. The number of PDI agencies, meanwhile, has dropped from around 19 a few years ago to 12 – and some of those are barely operational. Hence the workshop to discuss ways to reverse this unhealthy trend. I have yet to meet somebody in the markets sector who’s against transformation. All agree it’s necessary.

Implementation
Implementation is another matter, though, and I’ve seen shortcomings on all sides. I have a lot of empathy for the PDI agents, because they’re breaking in to an industry based on trust relationships between producers and their agents usually built up over many years. Any market agent will tell you how tough it is to get a producer to change his existing agent.

Get out there
But make no mistake – a producer will change if they’re dissatisfied with their agent in any way, and sometimes this is the only ‘gap’ other agents will have when seeking business. And there are PDI agents that make it. Which begs the question: what are the others doing wrong? I’m willing to bet one of the reasons is they simply don’t get out enough and call on farmers, or attend farmers’ days. That’s the only way you’re going to get clients.

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