An honest view of the South African poultry industry: Inviting the hen to dinner

2017-01-20 16:18

Quit your Squawking
Over the past few months the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), through its CEO Mr. Kevin Lovell, (in my humble opinion), has made allegations that the increased US poultry imports will undermine the gains made by the local industry. I find this to be manifestly unfounded on a number of grounds.

First, the poultry industry (and farming as a whole) still remains the least transformed sector in the South African economy, an external competitive intervention/stimulus in the form of imports will ensure that the industry remains competitive and honest.

Second, the ‘external intervention’ in the form of imports will provide the much needed remedial relief which will allow black (poultry) importers who can bypass ‘economic racism’ and the perception that black products area substandard. If product is produced in the United States (US), surely it must be of a better quality because it is produced by white farmers.

Third, poultry imports are nothing new in the sector in fact more than 40% of poultry products 'masquerades' as being locally produced (when in fact it is not).

Fourth, the perception that imports from the US do not meet the poultry sectors hygiene and health standards is a gross embellishment that is unsubstantiated. The refusal of international imports (especially from the US) is meant to maintain the 'Monopoly' that certain companies enjoy in South Africa, who have done very little in terms of SME development or supporting/preferring BEE suppliers.

Scratching out a Living 
On the other hand, I understand the broader implications of not imposing import tariffs on poultry products. Typically, the debates against imports are often more than not articulated and ‘brooded’ in terms of food security and (un)employment. Less explored is the idea that imports may also indirectly contribute to the shrinking of all educational programmes relating to Agriculture and the Animal sciences.

Chicken-hearted Trade Policies 
Furthermore, the country's politicians and the government departments that have an oversight over the industry have failed the country and industry in many ways. It is a trite principle of political engagement that a country's foreign trade policy must consist of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and those of its citizenry. South Africa, in general and the Departments Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries and Trade and Industry should always strive to only engage in agreements that have a tripartite-nature of being equitable, fair and balanced.

Written by, Ade Ed Camngca

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