Will the Markets last?

A highly experienced market man recently told me he reckoned fresh markets would be gone within 10 years. That comment got me thinking.

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Did he have a point? The time factor is merely a guess. What really counts is the belief that markets as we know them won’t exist in the future. It is common knowledge that markets face a variety of serious challenges which, if not addressed, could contribute to their demise. The most serious of these is political interference. I visit all the markets in the country and talk to market managers, market agents, buyers and producers. The message remains the same: the politicians at City Hall are ‘killing’ us.

It’s all politics

Apart from an appalling lack of commitment by the municipalities, the other major problem is ‘political’ appointments to senior posts in markets. These people have no market or fresh produce expertise and are there solely because of who they know.The grinding pace of an inept municipal bureaucracy means slow delivery, if any delivery at all. And this could include late payments to farmers, because the municipality have in the past used the farmers’ money to pay salaries. This is blatant fraud; that money does not belong to the municipality.

What bothers me even more is that none of those in positions of authority seem to give a damn. Being political animals, they’ll never admit to those things, but one would hope they would do something about it. But do they? Yes: reports are written, an internal committee is appointed to investigate, and many, many meetings are held.

The outcome? The world has to wait while the ‘wise men’ do their work. That’s the long answer. The short answer is much simpler: ‘There’s no money in the budget’. Whatever happens, the chances are good that the issue won’t be addressed. And I feel for the many loyal and reliable market staff who still battle on despite the incompetence of their bosses. They know what’s happening, but their hands are tied – politics holds sway.

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I disagree with this market man. Markets will not be gone in 10 years. They’ve been around for thousands of years, so why should they vanish now? Well, as long as we keep those politicians away!