Bring poultry home to roost

Cindy Preller

SOUTH Africa needs to build the capacity to feed itself, instead of becoming a dumping ground for other country’s unwanted products like chicken. This is the opinion of the newly elected chairman of the Developing Poultry Farmers’ Organisation (DPFO) in the Eastern Cape, Justice Zotwa, who is also the vice-chairman of the organisation’s national structure.

“The Eastern Cape is the smallest producer of poultry in the country and we need to change this landscape to revive failing government poultry projects.

“Our primary function as an organisation will be to get people out of poverty to revive these projects where there are, for example, chicken houses with no chickens.

“It is incorrect to import chicken from other countries when we can build the capacity to feed ourselves,” Zotwa said.

He said a last resort would be for the DPFO to fight the matter of chicken imports in court, but instead it planned to engage the government in reviving local poultry projects in order to address the non-productive parts of the economy and high unemployment among the youth.

In September, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies raised tariffs on poultry imports, after earlier court cases were lodged by the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) for tariff increases.

SAPA argued that last year alone 260 million chickens were imported, which included deboned meat. This posed a serious threat to the survival of the local chicken industry because they could not compete with the cheaper import prices.

However, the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of South Africa said the increased tariffs would be felt by the consumer‚ especially the poorer consumer who relied on imported chicken as a source of protein.

Zotwa, the owner of Mthombo Agri Business – a chicken farm based in Bizana – said poultry was the biggest, and sometimes the only, source of protein for South Africans and therefore it was important to grow the local industry, especially in rural parts of the Eastern Cape.

“We should make organic farming in the rural areas more sustainable by commercialising rural chicken farms.

“Previously disadvantaged farmers cannot succeed on their own but need a structure such as this,” Zotwa said.

Other members of the executive include Solomzi Gobingca (deputy chairman) and Pumla Rasmeni (provincial secretary), who will today again be engaged in a provincial strategy meeting with Zotwa.

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