Mzansi Agriculture Talk

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Acting swiftly could help consumers access affordable poultry meat during COVID 19 pandemic

Poultry meat provides about 60% of animal protein consumed by South Africans. The importance of the industry in food security cannot be exaggerated, however, the local production of poultry has been under stress due to imports, feed costs, limited transformation and other factors. The trade data supports the arguments of increasing imports. Between 2000 and 2010, local poultry meat consumption grew by 680 000 tons and 86% of this additional demand was serviced by local production. Between 2010 and 2017, domestic consumption increased by further 380 000 tons and only 36% of this new demand was supplied by local domestic producers. Due to these dynamics in consumption supply, the industry was declared an industry in distress and local commercial farmers wanted maximum tariffprotection against imports.

Saving the industry in distress

In 2019, government and industry players got together and developed a poultry master plan as a response measure to save industry jobs and production. Presently the country produces about 1.6 million tons per annum and small-scale farmers contribute roughly 10% share to this production. The Master Plan has five strategic interventions that seek to expand and improve local production; drive domestic demand and promoteaffordability; drive exports; enhance the regulatory framework;and use trade measures to support the local industry. In terms of trade measures, the industry wanted government to increase tariff protection on bone-in and boneless poultry cuts to 82% ad valorem duty rate. In return for protection, industry promised to expand local production and investments to a tune of R1.5 billion producing additional 1.7 million birds per week. Some of this additional production will be produced by small scalefarmers. Industry players and government also promised access to affordable poultry meat for consumers.

Protection against poultry imports

In March 2020, government took a first step in making poultry master plan a reality when they increased the rate of customs duty on boneless and bone-in chicken cuts from the 12% and 37% ad valorem to 42% and 62% respectively. This implies that the local industry players have been given the protection againstpoultry imports, which should allow them to expand local production and assist small scale farmers to gain a meaningfulparticipation in the poultry value chain. Consumers, small scaleproducers and policymakers are now looking at industry leaders and commercial farmers to play their part in honouring the master plan commitments of investing the amount they pledged in support for small scale farmers. Industry players are also expected to make poultry meat more affordable for domestic consumers – which was part of the commitment under the poultry master plan.

Making poultry meat affordable under COVID 19 pandemic

Given the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the country and worldwide, poultry is essential in providing affordable protein content to consumers. If industry players can act with speed in investing on local production expansion and helping small scalefarmers to produce more poultry meat, it can significantly assist the country to better cope with food demand during the COVID 19 shutdown and beyond. The small-scale farmers that produce poultry are largely concentrated in KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, North West, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga. Interestingly, these are Provinces will highest level of food insecurity at household level and are likely to be more sensitive to food price changes during COVID 19 pandemic. So, if private players in the poultry industry can immediately play their part to fully implement the poultry master plan commitments, this will go a long way in ensuring all households have access to affordablepoultry meat in the country during the COVID 19 pandemic. This will also ensure small scale farmers have new opportunitiesto play a meaningful role in the poultry meat value chain.

By Dr Sifiso Ntombela, sifiso@namc.co.za

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mzansi Agriculture Talk.

Acting swiftly could help consumers access affordable poultry meat during COVID 19 pandemic
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