For any new farmer without an offtake contract, access to market can be a headache.
As much as one is passionate about farming, you still need to know where will you sell your produce at the end of the day.
Mr Vusi Mlambo, an agent from the RSA group, spoke at length about processes to follow when selling to Fresh Produce markets during the AFASA Youth 2021 Gauteng Roadshow in Pretoria recently.
RSA Group is a South African based company, founded in 1984, that specialises in the sales and marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables on behalf of farmers in all marketing channels: markets, export, retail and direct.
A Market Agent is the link between the farmer and the buyer on the market. Farmers send their produce to their chosen market agent (and market), who then endeavours to obtain the best possible price.
Mlambo said that as long as your product has the quality that qualifies it to be consumed by people it can be sold at the market.
He said that RSA group has 11 branches around the country and they help anyone who has fresh produce.
“As long as you have the product, come to the market,” he said.
He said that farmers always want to know how much they’ll get when they bring their products to the market.
“We don’t make prices; the price is determined on the day through the supply and demand.
“Also at the market, we don’t buy the products, we sell on behalf of the farmer, he said.
Mlambo said that Fresh Produce Markets are best platforms for emerging farmers without offtake contracts to start selling.
“We accommodate everyone, if your quality is good then you get the best price,” he said.
A farmer known as Xolani, told Mlambo that he had planted around 30 000 lettuce and from their projections, they were looking at selling each head for R6 or R7 but when they took them to the market, they ended up getting R3 for each head.
“Is there any form of price regulation that governs prices of crops to allow farmers to cover their expenses because if government regulates how we should pay labour, then there should be regulations for prices as well,” asked Xolani.
Mlambo said the markets do have price regulations but “we don’t have a fixed price…what we have in an average price that would range between certain figures.”
He however explained that the advantage is getting your product quality right.
“Product quality is the one that fetches the best price …it will compete with the best in that commodity
“But again, in the market, the salesmen are trying to move the products fast so that they don’t rot because if they rot, then it means the farmer is the one who is going to lose
The other thing is that emerging farmers are competing with established brands in the market…so for a salesman to sell an unknown brand next to a well-known brand, sometimes they have to lower the price in order to be able to compete with well-known brands. Those are unfortunately, the dynamics we are faced with in the market,” he said.
He said that farming is a challenge as up and coming famers have to compete with commercial farmers.
“Well established famers also bring in large quantities, so for emerging farmers, producing the best quality is the way to go,” he advised.
“You also need to be in the market consistently because that’s when you’ll be able to make money when the market price fluctuates.”