Farmers reportedly lose millions due to rotting at Jhb market

Henry

Gauteng farmers who sell their produce at the Johannesburg fresh produce market are losing millions of rand because the market apparently does not have enough cold rooms and it does not function properly.

In addition, the banana ripening rooms are also not fully functional and traders are now forced – and at a huge cost – to purchase their own ripening rooms.

Bronwynn Engelbrecht, the DA’s spokesperson on agriculture and rural development in Gauteng, says this shocking discovery was made during a recent inspection visit to the market.

“It also came to light that the market was without power for two weeks in November last year and that since then it has become an almost daily occurrence. This causes huge losses, especially for the farmers.

“The market does compensate farmers and traders for their losses, but only for losses of food stored in the cold rooms. No compensation is paid out for any other losses of vegetables or fruit due to ventilation and air conditioning units not working,” says Engelbrecht.

One trader filed a R6 million damages claim against the Johannesburg Metro Council. Whether he will ever see a cent of it is unknown.

“The DA suggests that the Johannesburg Metro and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development urgently intervene to ensure that the management of the Johannesburg fresh produce market is adequately equipped with resources and that cold rooms are regularly maintained.

“Furthermore, there is a need to create a technological space for fresh products to be marketed and processed quickly and easily,” says Engelbrecht.

She says the DA will submit written questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to Mbali Hlophe, MEC for agriculture and rural development, and Tasneem Motara, MEC for economic development, to determine what measures have been put in place to ensure that the market is properly function.