The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said in a statement to the fresh produce industry that it was disappointed with the results of Project Rebirth at several national fresh produce markets.
Project Rebirth, consisting of producers, market agents, and market managers, was initiated in an effort to step up standards at several national fresh produce markets that were ailing. A Codes of Best Practices (CoBPs) was developed in 2014 to assist fresh produce markets to improve their services and standards. Since the establishment of Project Rebirth several engagements with national fresh produce markets were facilitated. There were also a number of engagements with the municipal officials on the status of the markets in their respective jurisdictions.
Unfortunately since the establishment of Project Rebirth the initiative has yielded limited positive results. Some markets have deteriorated further. The poor hygiene, infrastructure and food safety at these markets is placing stakeholders at risk and could have dire consequences for the fresh produce value chain.
The National Steering Committee of Project Rebirth has resolved to involve the Department of Health and Labour inspectors to visit the national fresh markets in order to assess the status of hygiene, sanitation and food safety standards, as well as compliance to Occupational Health and Safety standards. The six markets are: Vereeniging, Witbank, Welkom, Sol Plaatjies, Klerksdorp and Bloemfontein.
Producers are requested to alert market management and municipal owners at the abovementioned markets of the impact of potential closure of these markets on producers, agents, buyers and to the national fresh produce industry.