- LEA concerned large retailers turning into producers will stifle farmers and monopolise horticulture
- Calls on producers and retailers to agree on mutually beneficial pricing structure
These concerns were expressed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), Dr. Racious Moatshe, at the Glen Valley Horticultural Incubation Programme Graduation recently. Moatshe said these challenges have somehow turned the horticulture industry into an unattractive enterprise.
“To mention but a few, the constraints made by the producer-buyer related issues in pricing and bad payment systems and methods that do not favour the farmers or producers,” he noted. “Other challenges are the limited ability to enforce certain product standards as well as grading methods.
He appealed to retailers to work with producers and farmers to set up pricing structures, to harmonise their working relationship and to uplift the sector for continuous quality food production for consumption within the country and for export. Moatshe said there is also a need to work towards a continuous quality supply of horticulture produce in the market and called on farmers to rise to the occasion through reinvesting their proceeds to support their businesses and grow and improve the quality of their products.
“There is a dire need for farmers to collaborate with LEA effectively to facilitate the upgrading of their farming produce and products,” he said. “Equally, retailers should invest in agricultural schemes that enhance quality products and output.” Meanwhile, statistics show that the recent imports for 16 restricted horticulture crops currently stand at P201 million against local production of P173 million. Consumption of the 16 restricted crops therefore stands at P374 million. Moatshe said to meet the import bill of the restricted crops, local production needs to be improved by 116 percent.
To successfully deliver on its mandate of promoting citizen entrepreneurship, LEA has aligned its corporate strategy to the country’s economic needs by marking agriculture one of its focus sectors in driving key national agendas. The horticultural incubation programme is one such initiative that the parastatal uses to capacitate prospective and existing horticultural producers with the aim of empowering them to run sustainable, profitable and competitive horticultural enterprises. Since its inception in 2011, the programme has trained a total of 214 individuals out of which 42 percent are currently engaged in horticulture production.