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Plan to revive poultry industry in KZN

THE Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) said that it planned to resuscitate the ailing KwaZulu-Natal poultry industry.

The agency, which was formed to promote and support the growth of black-owned and black-managed agribusinesses five years ago, said they planned to rekindle production that was attributable to the exit of medium scale white poultry producers since 2010.

The ADA board chairman, Dr Edwin Ngidi, said the province’s poultry sectorremained in intensive-care.

“This sector employs many people in processing and it was a mistake that it is in this state,” Ngidi said. “We will attempt to revamp it by attract ing investors to finance small scale poultry producers to grow in this sector,” said Ngidi. Last year one of South Africa’s biggest chicken producers Rainbow Chicken, renamed RCL Foods, sold 15 of its 25 farms in Hammarsdale to stay afloat.

This led to the retrenchment of over1300 staff as the company reduced its two-shift system to a single one after cheap imports hurt their sales. RCL Foods revenue for the period ended December 2017 declined 2.4% to R12.8 billion from the R13.1bn posted in the first half of the year.

The company attributed this largely to the reduced chicken volumes following the implementation of their revised business model. Other chicken producers that have faced challenges as far back as in 2010 included Berwin Chicken Farms in Bergville and Argyle Poultry Farms of Cramond near Pietermaritzburg.

Ngidi said that the province was not supposed to depend solely on the corporate producers hence their move to empower black growers from rural areas to enter the commercial space and create jobs in those areas.

He said ADA was faced with a challenge of funding small-scale farmers who did not have collateral nor own the land they were working on to access funding from financial institutions.

“They also do not have infrastructure and mechanisation to produce and transport their produce to the markets which themselves are not easy for them,” said Ngidi.

National African Farmers’ Union president Dr Mandla Buthelezi, who also chairs Isu Labalimi which focuses on poultry and vegetable products, said black emerging farmers were facing challenges as they attempted to enter the sector.

Buthelezi said they had approached the Competition Commission of South Africa on the agricultural chain being closed down for emerging farmers last week.

GIVEN MAJOLA

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