THE government must be kidding if it claims to be rescuing the chicken industry with an export-focused portion of its R1 billion investment in agro-processing (“Helping poultry industry spread its wings”, The Star, October 25). Exports? Really? This at a time when the industry has had to cull four million chickens due to the ongoing bird flu epidemic, the first of its kind in South Africa?
We need to be looking inward at what can be done to support the local industry through this bird flu crisis which has cost 1 000jobs – and this is rising. When the industry is facing two simultaneous crises – the other is dumping – this investment at this time is premature.
Before the industry can export, it has to be stabilised and recover from the dumping onslaught.
Before we look abroad we need to look closer to home at what the government task team, appointed last November to investigate the dumping crisis in the industry, has been doing -or, more precisely, not doing.
Support the local industry through this bird flu crisis
A whole year has passed and not so much as a peep from these appointed champions of the chicken industry!
As for the paltry 13.9% tariff on imports Minister Magwanishe brags about, this is a meaningless drop in a bucket – or more precisely, a shipping container -of dumped frozen chicken that has been dropped on our local chicken farmers’ heads, while unnamed middlemen reap the profits and mislead the South African consumer about their massive profit margins.
And can we talk for a minute about the thousands of chicken workers who have been laid off in recent years because of dumping, and whose numbers, due to avian flu, are still growing – these South Africans are looking ahead at a miserable festive season with no chicken in the pot.
But let’s talk about throwing money from that billion rand at “exploring the export market”. Can the government get real and do what is right for a change?
Founder, FairPlay anti-dumping movement