Agri Value Chain Virtual Discussion Series – Informal Trade Part2

  • 25 Junie 2020
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The session is anchored by Dr John Purchase leading a panel consisting of Jaco Oosthuizen, IMS Holdings - RSA Group, Group Chief Executive Officer Jak Koseff - Deputy head: Economic acceleration and investment fast tracking
Wandile Sihlobo - Agbiz, Chief Economist, Nico Muller - Chair of Institute of Market Agents of SA (IMASA), Charles Park - Executive: Core Operations, Joburg Market, Gjalt Hoogiemstra - Group Facilities Manager, RSA Group

Jaco Oosthuizen kicks the conversation off by giving us a sense of the breadth of the informal market with specific reference to fresh produce markets. He speaks on the ability of fresh produce markets to move large quantities of products across all LSMs as an advantage. “That has given markets the ability to support informal trade in such a way that it is their primary base of purchase which has grown across boarders over time.”

Charles Parks provides context of exactly how big informal trade by providing astounding figure statistics. He gives a rundown of economic and sales performance of the Joburg market through the different lockdown levels and lets us in on the impact of the lockdown on business. “We saw a rise in household trade during the lockdown as closing of restaurants forced people to cook a lot more.”

Nico Muller talks about the growing patronage that they have seen during the ongoing threat of the pandemic. He says that while they do have all protocols in place, there is desperation for people to make money to sustain their living so hawkers still need to come to the market so they can continue to trade. “We can see the desperation and the disparities in living conditions and inequalities in the country. Whatever money they make for the day, that is the food they will eat for that night. They cannot afford to not come to the market.” He adds that it is important to take heed of what it takes for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to put food on the table.

Jak Koseff explains his work in the office of the premier and how it is relevant to the informal trade sector. He gives hard data compiled by stats SA which states that about 500 thousand entities in Gauteng along can be classified as informal business. He highlights the characteristics of such operations and speaks on the challenges within this class of business operations. He goes into great detail about the different components that make up this sector and how they operate. He juxtaposes foreign traders with their South African counterparts and comments on the growing tensions between them. “There is a Township Economy act that will come into effect later on in the year that will make it easier for business to operate in township. It will cut a lot of the red tape." He speaks on the various projects that the Minister’s office is working on to try and get a more agglomerated purchasing power plugged in to the townships at a more affordable and more efficient way.

The panel agrees that the goal is to get better efficiency getting a solution network to people who are desperate for sustainable living. Wandile Sihlobo joins the conversation on the point that there isn’t enough discussion about the issue of supporting informal markets and integrating them into the value chain. He goes on to illustrate the importance of the role of infrastructure investment in growing and supporting the informal sector. John Purchase adds to this sentiment by letting viewers in on the investment plans being currently being drawn up by Minister de Lille. He is optimistic that investments will be made in the right areas.

Francois Strydom wraps up the discussion stating that fresh produce markets are a proven market mechanism where farmers and traders and agents meet. He says it is crucial to look at how we can build on this important sector. “It is logic for everybody in the food value chain to understand that we should drive to develop food value chains and enable people on a financial and economic basis.”

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