To highlight export possibilities for the agriculture and agroprocessing sectors, and target entrepreneurs, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), the Joburg Market and various partners collaborated to host the Joburg Market Day for local and international stakeholders.
Held last month at the Joburg Market, the event included an exhibition of entrepreneurs’ market- ready products, as well as an investor seminar and business-2-business matchmaking session.
Speaking at the event, member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development and CoJ Councillor Ruby Mathang emphasised the need for the country to assert itself on the opportunities for the international trade presented by the global economy and ensure that local business take advantage of the opportunity to export local products.
“For trade to be fully empowering to bring about economic change, trade among African countries also needed to be increased and strengthened,” he added.
The Joburg Market Day forms part of the CoJ’s drive towards supporting entrepreneurs in these sectors, with the city also having developed an exporter development programme to assist enterprises at different stages of readiness for the export market. Products of some of the entrepreneurs involved in this programme were on display.
Business sectors highlighted at the event included fine foods, such as tinned food items and biscuits; beverages, such as wine, juice, milk and water; and perishables, such as fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, cheese and fresh-cut flowers. Commodities, such as maize, sugar, beans and nuts, as well as fast-moving consumer goods, were also exhibited.
Mathang emphasised the importance of the Joburg Market in assisting the CoJ to create a more conducive environment for the agribusiness sector through highlighting the market’s impact.
Market opportunities for growth and jobs were created through the market, with market agents and tenants creating employment for more than 6 000 people, Mathang reiterated. About 1.3-million tonnes of fruit and vegetables a year are sold at the Joburg market, which yielded a R5.3-billion turnover for the 2014/15 financial year.
“Our objective . . . is to enhance these value chains and create a more conducive environment for farmers, market agents and agroprocessors to grow their businesses further and . . . contribute to the growth of the economy,” he noted.
CoJ Executive Mayor Parks Tau agreed that agriculture and, through it agroprocessing, was central to the city’s plans with regard to entrepreneurship development.
Consequently, CoJ, in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, trains aspiring and existing exporters in the agriculture and agroprocessing sector in aspects such as product development, administrative readiness and how to obtain investment.
While the city’s trade and investment promotion unit facilitates workspace and requirements, in collaboration with the Joburg Property Company, to provide access to land, as well as workspace approval for export-ready clients, Tau noted that CoJ’s intentions include converting dilapidated buildings into areas for urban agriculture, thereby allowing for agriculture and agroprocessing to be established.
This particular type of agriculture and agroprocessing will focus on perishable products, such as green vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, fresh milk and eggs, as well as poultry, which can be grown and housed within confined spaces within the city.
Even though the Joburg Market is not directly involved in agroprocessing, the market is keen to develop in that sector and assist as a business facilitator, Joburg Market board chair Khehla Shubane noted at the event.
He explained that, since there was a fair amount of land of about 24 ha and adjacent to the market’s current premises, the market had to consider using this land to expand its facilities and advance and add value to business conducted at the market.
Work had started to ensure that the environmental issues associated with using the land were considered and approvals obtained to advance the work, he added.
Shubane concluded that the market was determined to grow the fresh produce and agroprocessing markets and would remain focused on achieving this objective.