Poultry Master Plan: Positive gains made towards increasing exports

When the Poultry Industry Master Plan was signed a year ago this month, no one could have predicted the devastating effects that a pandemic would have on the world during 2020.

And while the South African government is working out how to deliver on the promises of increased local production and job creation in terms of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan, the SA Poultry Association (SAPA) has announced that positive gains have been made towards increasing exports of poultry.

This is one of the key objectives of the Poultry Industry Master Plan, aimed at growing the industry, which is being driven by Trade Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza.

“It is exactly a year since the Master Plan was signed and it is gratifying that despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we can confirm that certain crucial steps have been taken towards enabling more exports of SA chicken,” said Izaak Breitenbach, GM of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation.

“It is to the credit of Ministers Patel and Didiza that South African chicken products can now be exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and hopefully also soon to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere,” said Izaak Breitenbach, GM of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation.

Breitenbach said this follows after the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) successfully negotiated a new export certificate opening up the UAE for exports of poultry products. The export certificate not only harmonises the required disease-prevention measures but also the practice of compartmentalisation, and the monitoring processes that test for residues of medication used to treat or prevent disease.

“Compartmentalisation is a practice that the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) introduced to alleviate restrictions on international trade that are imposed when a case of a disease such as avian influenza is identified in a country. It allows for the region to be divided into different “compartments”, so that specific farms or facilities declared disease free can continue to trade despite an outbreak elsewhere in the country,” explains Breitenbach.

“We are very excited to confirm that the first producer is already exporting product to the UAE and we anticipate market access negotiations to take place with Saudi Arabia in the near future,” he says.

Steps are also being taken to facilitate exports to our neighbours in the SA Customs Union (SACU) countries. South Africa does have export certificates in place for Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, but access is restricted in terms of these countries’ quota policy, says Breitenbach. The expectation is that the SACU arrangements will be smoothed in the near future in terms of the Master Plan to enable more exports.

While exporting to the European Union is high on the export planning agenda, this is particularly challenging due to the EU import protocols that must be met. According to Breitenbach a gap analysis has however already been done to determine the compliance systems that are required for EU exports. Compartmentalisation will be an important aspect of an EU export agreement, and that has already been addressed by DALRRD in negotiations that are underway.

The Master Plan, which is a collaborative effort between government, poultry producers, importers, exporters and labour, to was ratified at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment conference in November last year, and aims to stabilise and grow the poultry sector. The poultry industry pledged an investment of R1.7 billion into growing capacity, of which R1 billion has already been rolled out. This has already increased production by 5%.

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