Poultry Master Plan – ‘you can’t see me’
In the corridors of the poultry industry including segments of government, retail and farmers, some were not entirely convinced with the announcement of the Poultry Master Plan.
The Eastern Cape Poultry Farmers Association (ECPFA) which comprised of a broiler and egg producers said the Poultry Task Team established by Dti did not consult them.
“We were not consulted at all by the DTI in the Eastern Cape and we have also contacted other poultry farmers so as to find out. None are even aware of the master plan” said Mhlobo Mbane one of the leaders of ECPFA.
SA Poultry Association (SAPA) disputed this claim and said all role players like Fair Play, Proudly SA, FAWU and COSATU provided meaningful contribution.
“The plan was initiated by Ministers Patel and Didiza and they got all the stakeholders in the industry to work together, importers, small producers, trade unions and the poultry industry at large” said Izaak Breitenbach, General Manager of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation.
The plan intends to ward off reliance on bone-in portions of chickens, drive domestic demand, ensure procurement of locally produced chickens and includes a Sanitary and Phytosanitary Plan to overcomes export barriers.
Among the worrying signals for smallholder poultry farmers is the issue of contracting and feed costs which has over the years caused consternation in the industry. Feed costs in RSA were so high that it was impossible for smallholder farmers to compete.
Feed costs accounted for up to 70% of variable production costs of broiler producers in South Africa. The largest poultry producers controlled the market share of feed.
The contribution of R1.5 billion by the poultry industry also raised hairs. Contract farming in the poultry industry was beset with unfair competition practices. According to the statement released by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, 50 new contract farmers will be established within 3 years.
“The contracting part of it is what is still shocking to us and what about assisting the small-scale producers to go commercial. We want to be assisted to run commercial farming poultry enterprise and not be hand held by the very same people (SAPA) that are only concerned about their own selfish interest that seeks to protect their gains” said Mbane.
Mzansi Agriculture Talk requested the Dti and DARLLD to share the Poultry Master Plan but to no avail. None of the government agricultural agencies including departmental branches working on poultry know what the plan entailed except for SAPA.
“We gave input up to the last minute and know what is in the plan” said Breitenbach.
ECPFA said it did not have access to the document and doubts smallholder producers’ associations will support the implementation of the plan.
“SAPA main strategy in the plan is for the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) to impose heavy tariffs on all poultry imports and that alone cannot be a basis of a plan. It is not concerned with other factors like addressing its competitiveness as suggested by a BFAP baseline report of 2016” said the departmental source.
A baseline report conducted by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) on behalf of IDC titled ‘evaluating the competitiveness of the South African broiler value chain’ identified competitiveness as the main issue towards its sustainability.
“The poultry’s industry inability to enter into the global export market and to compete against surplus products sold within the global context raised concerns regarding its long-term sustainability” the reported mentioned.
Moreover, South African producers concentrated on bone-in portions due to the demand structure locally. The EU, US, Brazil optimised carcass value by marketing premium chicken breast in their domestic markets while exporting bone-in portions to South Africa at competitive prices.
Breitenbach said SAPA was pleased that “the plan makes provision for addressing many unfair practices including dumping, and a number of food safety sins related to imports which has been of great concern to SAPA.”
Minister Patel and Didiza were encouraged to share the Poultry Master Plan without further delay.