SOUTH AFRICA – Faulty cold storage units at Joburg market have triggered financial setbacks for Gauteng’s agricultural community resulting in multi-million rand losses.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) uncovered this alarming issue during a recent oversight inspection citing compromise in quality and longevity of fresh produce.

Traders at the Joburg Market, a crucial hub for fresh produce distribution, are grappling with inadequate cold storage facilities and malfunctioning banana ethylene ripening rooms.

The latter has forced traders to invest heavily in their ripening rooms to salvage perishable goods, exacerbating the financial strain on farmers.

In November last year, a two-week power outage crippled the market, a problem that has unfortunately become a recurring occurrence.

This ongoing issue has disproportionately affected farmers who rely on the market to sell their produce efficiently.

During engagements with traders, it was revealed that the market’s compensation policy falls short. While losses incurred due to non-functional cold storage units are compensated, those resulting from malfunctioning ventilation and air conditioning units are not covered.

A trader, grappling with a staggering R6 million claim against the City of Joburg for lost produce, faces uncertainty regarding the payout.

“The losses suffered by farmers and traders are not merely financial; they undermine the entire agricultural supply chain and jeopardize food security,” remarked a concerned DA representative during the inspection.

The DA proposes urgent intervention from the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to equip the Joburg Market’s management with necessary resources and to ensure regular maintenance of cold storage facilities.

A crucial element of this intervention is creating a conducive technological environment for efficient marketing and processing of fresh produce.

To address these pressing concerns, the DA will submit written questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to MECs Mbali Hlophe (Agriculture and Rural Development) and Tasneem Motara (Economic Development).

The goal is to ascertain the measures in place to rectify the malfunctioning infrastructure at the Joburg Market and to establish a timeline for the repair of cold storage units.

A commitment to addressing issues that impede economic growth, jeopardize jobs, and threaten food security underlies the DA’s urgency in resolving the challenges faced by farmers and traders in the province.

The call for immediate action reflects the party’s dedication to safeguarding the economic interests and livelihoods of those impacted by the Joburg Market’s infrastructure woes.

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