Poultry is the biggest job creator in SA’s agri sector

Several useful reminders of the importance of the poultry industry to South Africa’s economy were given during an interview on the TV programme Grootplaas with Izaak Breitenbach, head of the broiler organisation at the SA Poultry Association (SAPA).

During the interview in Afrikaans, Breitenbach pointed out that poultry was the second largest component of the country’s agricultural sector, and its largest job creator. It is also at the top of an extensive value chain – when poultry production expands, jobs are created in maize and soya production, in transport and packaging, in wholesale and other areas.

Similarly, when the poultry industry is threatened, so are jobs in these other sectors.

Asked about import tariff protection for the industry, Breitenbach said firmly that the poultry industry did not need protecting against competition – it was a globally competitive industry – but only against illegal and unfair trade, such as dumping.

Before the poultry sector masterplan was implemented in 2019, dumping had caused the closure of at least 10 small to medium-sized poultry enterprises and more than 400 of the 860 small-scale farmers on SAPA’s survey list had gone out of business. Since then, the master plan had brought about a “material improvement” in the industry where dumping had constrained investment, expansion and job creation. 

Breitenbach estimated that, by the end of this year, capacity would have expanded by about 10%, an export industry would have developed and the industry’s economic contribution would grow from R50 billion to around R56 billion.

These are important numbers to bear in mind as the country awaits a decision by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel on permanent anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four European Union countries – Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain.