The poultry sector is still wrestling with chicken dumping and is now battling illegal chicken imports.FairPlay Movement founder Francois Baird has called for a crackdown on the illegal chicken trade, saying that it not only affected the poultry sector but was detrimental to the livelihoods of small-scale poultry farmers.
Baird was speaking following the appearance of three suspects in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court in February on charges of corruption and fraud after allegedly smuggling and being in possession of over two tons of poultry meat. They are also accused of attempting to bribe law enforcement officers. Baird said that illegal chicken trading was occurring because the anti-dumping levy imposed by the government was working, and that the Poultry Masterplan was producing growth in the sector.
He warned that illegal chicken trading was resulting in smaller farmers going out of business. “If you drive along the south of Soweto, you’ll find many smallholdings that could produce the chicken we need, but because of the illegal trade, they go out of business,” he said. “We hear many stories in conversations with other small chicken farmers of chicken destined for another country, but miraculously appearing in South Africa and being sold here and not elsewhere.
“If people smuggle food, there is no food safety and we cannot afford it especially when we have huge unemployment, massive poverty and hunger staring us in the face.” Baird also noted that as a result of the illegal trade, small-scale poultry farmers could not provide chicken, and when this happened, there was a disruption in the value chain that led to the destruction of the local production base.
“There should be a crackdown on the illegal trade because that revenue could feed people,” he said. “However, we believe that the anti-dumping levy is having an effect, and that’s why people are starting to smuggle chicken.” Baird also noted that the unemployment level, which as of this week stood at 35.3%, meant that record levels of hunger would follow, despite a booming agricultural sector.
“FairPlay suggests that government provides assistance to small farmers in deep rural areas, particularly small poultry farmers who create employment and sell food to local communities,” he said.