Wish list for election time

Dreams of money flowing in from government to rejuvenate our markets have partly been realised over the past year.

Wish list for election time
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There is a long way to go, but it’s a start and that’s important.

Some time ago, I gazed into my crystal ball and tried to predict events in the fresh produce sector for the year ahead. Suffice to say, all I ever got right was that ‘prices will go up and prices will come down’.

Then I stumbled on an old column written in the Mbeki days, when there was an election in the offing and my proposals to the ANC for an election manifesto included a substantial investment in the upliftment of our markets.

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Needless to say, my pleas fell on deaf ears. Food security was never high on the election agenda.

Woefully ignorant
Let’s face it, come election time, politicians want exciting stuff to offer the people. Mundane things such as improving markets so that we can be assured of food supplies in future years is nowhere near as enticing as “we’re going to create another zillion new jobs within two years”.

It’s no wonder that fresh produce markets struggle just to be recognised.

Most senior bureaucrats know about them, and some are very well informed, but their political bosses seem woefully ignorant. Our minister of agriculture should know something about markets, but I’m not aware of her making any utterances in favour of them.

She came out in favour of small-scale farmer development after a Walmart-sponsored trip to Puerto Rico. Perhaps an all-expenses paid junket around the country to visit the markets might do the trick.

She might suddenly become aware that there is a very plausible option for the selling of small-scale farmers’ products. It’s called a ‘market’, and supplying it in the correct way remains the best option of all.

A trip to South Africa’s 19 markets should include a cross-section of markets from the biggest to the smallest. Her entourage will require a substantial budget, but it may be worth every cent.

I wonder if I’ll be on her guest list?