By: Tebogo Mokwena
FairPlay has called on the South African government to get the Poultry Master Plan back on track, pointing out that it is way behind schedule. Although there was an R1.5 billion investment by the poultry sector which led to the creation of jobs and the bolstering of small-scale farmers, the lack of initiative to drive poultry exports was identified as a key factor in slowing down the sector’s growth.
These observations were made in the non-profit trade movement’s recent annual report for the year. The document, which focused on “turning the tide against predatory trade in South African agriculture”, also included insights from the SA Poultry Association. It follows FairPlay’s Digital Summit, which discussed how the plan had fared since its launch.
“The first action must be to reconvene the executive oversight committee (which) includes the two ministers (of Trade, Industry and Competition and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development), poultry producers, chicken importers, and exporters, and trade unions,” the report reads. “All signatories need to recommit to the master plan and its objectives (and) ministers (Ebrahim) Patel and (Thoko) Didiza need to communicate more effectively, and more regularly, on master plan implementation at the executive oversight committee and in public.”
SA Poultry Association CEO Izaak Breitenbach stressed the dangers of dumping chicken. “While service delivery and failing infrastructure are certain issues that lead to material harm for producers and weaken South Africa’s road to complete food security, it is the ever-present threat of dumping – a menace that has plagued the industry for more than a decade, causing its sluggish growth – that has not been addressed,” he said.
Fairplay also called on the government to implement VAT-free chicken, noting that removing VAT from chicken feed for small-scale farmers would be beneficial. “There is no VAT-free meat in the zero-rated food basket, yet chicken is the most consumed protein by all South Africans, including poor households,” the report states. “Zero-rating these products is urgent and would benefit lower-income households and small-scale farmers.”
Fairplay also said that the government should intensify its assistance to small-scale farmers as well as fix infrastructure. “Small-scale farmers are struggling to survive because of rising input costs and feel they have received no benefits from the master plan,” the report says. “The poultry industry should engage with ministers Patel and Didiza and with the Food and Allied Workers Union to encourage direct support for small-scale farmers, including the services of agricultural extension officers.”
It also pointed out that state infrastructure required urgent attention. “Small-scale farmers are disproportionately affected by falling infrastructure and rolling blackouts to the extent that they are unlikely to survive unless something is done to assist them on these issues.”