The poultry industry has cautiously welcomed the news that the government has signed a poultry sector master plan to provide a framework for a determined effort to grow jobs in the industry.
For the last three years the industry has been plagued by numerous difficulties, including the cost of feed and barriers to exports, as well as rising imports, mainly of bone-in chicken portions from Brazil, the EU and the US.
The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (Amie) welcomed the plan, which was devised by the Department of Trade and Industry and brokered by Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza.
While saying Amie would play its part to ensure South Africa had a sustainable poultry industry, chief executive Paul Matthew noted the challenge of lost export opportunities faced by the industry.
“Although South Africa has tariff- free access to Europe, the country does not conform to the sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements of the European market, and Europe is therefore closed to our chicken products. Exports to other countries are also low, making up only 2% of total production,” Matthew said.
“From Amie’s perspective, and with respect to our experience in participating in the process leading up to the formulation and adoption of the poultry sector master plan, we’re satisfied with the government’s commitment to enabling the entire industry and its value chain to grow, create jobs and be globally competitive.”
A year ago the SA Poultry Association (Sapa) filed a lawsuit seeking to force the government to suspend a quota that excluded some US poultry imports from an anti-dumping tariff.
Then Sapa chief executive Kevin Lovell warned: “Decreasing poultry imports would create more opportunities for South Africa’s developing poultry farmers.”
On Friday, Francois Baird, founder of FairPlay, a non-profit trade movement that fights for industry jobs, said: “The strength of government’s intent will be shown by the percentage tariff it’s prepared to impose to restrict Brazilian chicken imports.”
General manager of Sapa’s broiler organisation, Izaak Breitenbach, said: “The objectives of the plan hinge on increasing local chicken consumption and so growing the demand for chicken, while also addressing the exporting of locally-produced cooked and raw chicken products.
“Target markets will include SADC countries and those within the African Continental Free Trade Area area and the Middle East.
“Gearing up locally will also open European markets.”
Didiza said the plan “sets out a new joint vision across the value-chain, and creates a poultry sector master plan council to monitor and drive implementation”.