The Importance of APAC For The Fresh Produce Agents
Francois Knowles, Registrar, Agricultural Products Agents Board
The Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) regulates amongst other things, the activities of fresh produce agents. The APAC mandate, the Agricultural Produce Agents Act, Act 12 of 1992 purports that a “fresh produce agent” (agency) and an “agent” (salesperson) may only operate on behalf of a farmer if he or she is the holder of a fidelity fund certificate (trading licence).
All prospective salespersons are subjected to a comprehensive process of scrutiny that includes vetting, financial suitability and identifying possible prior criminal convictions. If an applicant is then found to be acceptable, he or she must undergo and complete the APAC online training course specifically designed for prospective fresh produce agents.
After successful completion the salesperson, upon registration, is empowered with the knowledge and right skillset to deal with farmers and to sell their produce within the parameters of the Act and the Rules in Respect of Fresh Produce Agents. APAC through this process protects what matters most, the financial interest of the farmer.
Should a salesperson then contravene this trust relationship (via theft or fraud), an investigation will be launched by APAC to determine possible improper conduct. Improper conduct is the frontrunner to convening an independent disciplinary tribunal where fresh produce agents are charged and brought to book. The tribunal’s decision is binding and can lead to hefty fines and/or the dismissal of an agent, if the improper conduct is regarded as serious.
APAC recently took disciplinary steps against three fresh produce market agencies and their directors who were involved in gross mismanagement of farmers monies. These agencies were all found guilty, deregistered and have subsequently ceased to exist. The salespersons who were involved at these agencies may also no longer trade if not in procession of a re-issued fidelity fund certificate. Farmers who did business with these agencies who incurred losses were all compensated from the APAC Fidelity Fund and all claims have been finalised and settled.
APAC strongly advises all farmers and specifically new farmers to ensure that they only do business with registered and lawful fresh produce agents. In doing so they are assured of the protection of APAC and most importantly the Fidelity Fund will guarantee losses that may occur if an agent is involved in any improper conduct.
Francois Knowles, registrateur van APAC.