Cape Town – Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana says government is working tirelessly to assist poultry farms that have been shut down due to illegal brown meat dumping.
The Minister said this when Ministers in the Economic Cluster appeared in the National Assembly to field oral questions.
He said there is a process that is led by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Department of Trade and Industry and others to find funding to ensure that these closed production plants will be opened.
“Whether all the workers will be employed will depend on the viability of the process, as well as the sustainability and profitability of those farms.
“The Deputy Minister [General Bheki Cele] will be visiting some of the farms so as to verify their viability going forward.
“We are committed as a department to ensure that we save jobs because we are concerned about the jobs lost due to the brown meat dumping by the European Union and America,” he said.
This comes after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in March that government will look for ways of ensuring that job losses in the poultry industry are avoided.
At the time, the Deputy President said two task teams had been deployed – one a government task team and the second one a broader task team comprising government, business and labour – tasked with finding solutions.
He said government would deploy incentives and other support measures to protect the industry to maintain production capabilities, save jobs as well as to ensure food security.
Briefing members of Parliament on Wednesday, the Minister said government was prepared to do all that it can to reopen the closed farms and make sure that they are sustainable going forward.
“We have been instructed as different departments…to do a study of all the farms that have been closed for a number of factors, including their competitiveness and the fact that dumping has really killed our industry.
“Therefore the programme is there to make sure that those farms are reopened. I think the other question was how do we make sure that those farmworkers that have been working there are empowered as owners going forward?
“We are looking at the 30% set aside from government hoping that when those farms are reopened, they can be able to sell to state institutions like hospitals and prisons. We are working on that programme.”
First published in SAnews.gov.za on 11 May 2017