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The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, has finally designated two assignees to inspect fresh produce, grain and its related products produced locally and imported. This was done after a lengthy and transparent selection process which started off with the invitation of prospective assignees on 2 October 2015. The assignees are designated in terms of section 2(3) of the Agricultural Product Standards Act of 1990 (Act 119) and will be responsible for the implementation of section 3 and its associated supporting sections of the act.

Product Control for Agriculture (Prokon) and Leaf Services were designated on 17 May 2016 for the purposes of the application of the local/import regulations relating to fresh produce and grains and its related derivative products respectively under the Agricultural Product Standards Act No. 119 of 1990.

The implementation of assignees to inspect fresh produce, grain and its related product regulations was delayed for six months in order to allow the designated assignees to set up their operations and consult with the affected stakeholders. The assignees will be operational from 1 January 2017 throughout all the selling or inspection points; pack houses, silos, milling factories, processing facilities, distribution centres, retail level, wholesale, national fresh produce markets, bakeries, ports of entry, etc.

The implication of the designation is that fresh produce, grains and grain products will be subjected to inspection at a cost to the owners / seller by assignees. The cost of inspection will be based on the gazetted tariffs which would have been properly informed by an objective cost recovery model.

The importance of assignees to inspect fresh produce will result in the promotion of fair trade practices and consumer protection. Consistent quality products in keeping with claims will be sold to consumers and thus resulting in sellers being fairly rewarded for their production effort.

The enforcement of the regulations will further result in the prevention of poor quality products being imported into South Africa. Both locally produced and imported products will be subjected fairly to the same regulation(s) under the enforcement wing of the assignees. – Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries