Title : Key Competitiveness and quality Requirements for successful small fresh produce farmers in emerging countries
Boosting the growth of small farmers serve as a meaningful mechanism in uplifting rural food shortages in many developing countries, including South Africa. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) contribute significantly to the economic growth and development of a country (Taiwo, Awolaja, & Yusuf, 2012:18). Wiggins (2009:4), defines small scale farming as; “…practises that engage farmers with substantial knowledge of agriculture and cultivating small plots effectively”. Baporikar, Nambira and Gomxos (2016:195), are of the opinion that SMEs have to conquer many barriers that deter the growth of their businesses. These include planning methods to access finances and marketing strategies, the use technology in monitoring business operations, customer service advancement, as well as providing assurance to the customer that will increase business image and reputation. This presentation aims to elaborate on key competitiveness and quality requirements for successful small fresh produce farmers. The development and subsequent application of a Quality Management approach in SMEs are limited by factors such as the absence of time and resources (human and financial), the extreme costs of implementation and the lack of knowledge and experience (Aggelogiannopoulos, Drosinos, & Athanasopoulos, 2007:1077; Mondelaers & Van Huylenbroeck, 2008:474; and Karipidis, Athanassiadis, Aggelopoulos, & Giompliakis, 2009:93).
Quality Management (QM) has grown into a domestic strategy for most of the countries around the globe and is gaining recognition at an accelerated pace (Asim & Zaki, 2012:14-24). Globally, the prominence of quality management is appreciated and embraced as a proven technique that guarantees the survival of many successful organizations. The commitment to managing quality is influenced by increasing globalization, which necessitates discussions on various approaches and practices that will serve as quality barometers within various countries and regions (Foster 2017:74). Asim and Zaki (2012:14-24), maintain that QM has key technical, economical and human implications, which influence the competitiveness, employment, exports and overall economic growth of any country.
The safety of fresh produce is of vital importance to several interested parties like consumers, producers, traders, processing firm and governments. Especially since more and more of the global population are moving towards consuming fresh produce ‘raw’, due to its health benefits owing to its vitamin, mineral, fibre and antioxidant properties, it is the opinion of this researcher that fresh produce farmers need to be particularly considerate when applying crop protection applications during their farming practices, in order to deem their harvested crops safe for human consumption. Developing countries have seen an upsurge in the awareness about nutritional, safety and quality aspects in their food preference as a result of a general escalation in health consciousness and mindfulness of the advantages of fruit and vegetables in their diets. This can only be assured when a conscious systematic approach to farming practices is followed by which all methods employed are documented.