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I went to the Joburg Market with my grandfather today. It is the major center for all fresh produce and is the biggest of its kind not only in South Africa, but also in all of Africa. Established in 1974, this commission market that employs many South Africans is still owned by the city of Joburg. In this type of system producers (farmers) deliver their produce to market agents who then sell the produce to buyers. Farmers across South Africa send their fresh produce to the Market daily to be traded. The Market also has ripening facilities where the farmers can store their goods. This Market is a major distribution channel as many South Africans use the same goods that were at one point in this Market. The buyers at the Market range from retailers, wholesalers, exporters, processors, informal traders and even those buying for household consumption. For example, some people buy smaller amounts of produce and take it to the townships to sell, while others buy produce in larger quantities to repackage and sell to stores who will sell them to the direct consumer. Because of its large buyer base, the Joburg Market is an ideal venue for trade is
At the market there are nine halls - each hall consisting of warehouses longer than football fields. Each hall carries specific produce. For example, Hall 8 only carries onions and potatoes, where as another would only carry fruits. The market agents each have a spot in the warehouse hall from where they sell their goods, directly competing with the agent next to him. Wholesalers are able to check the daily prices of specific produce items, such as apples or basil, online.
My grandfather buys onions from the Market for his onion packaging business. He, like many other South Africans in the produce business, is a middle man who buys onions from the farming company, cleans, and repackages them to sell to another company who delivers the final product to the direct consumer. Bee Dee Prepackaging is a relatively small “factory.” Everything here is done by manual labor. The onions delivered by the farmer are first cleaned and dried. They are then separated into large, medium, and small sizes, from where they are peeled and packaged. My grandpa and his partner began this company in 1970. Since then, the business has been growing at a consistently small
rate. This is largely and most importantly due to the fact that the manual labor in this country is cheap. Recently, the company he sells to has asked him to buy directly from a specific producing company, rather than buy onions through the Market. By doing this, the company can ensure the quality of the onions. My grandfather says this has happened to many other companies, as they are trying to eliminate the middle man, the agent at the Market. However, if this were to happen, many jobs would be in danger.
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