Small farmers crucial for food security in South Africa

The importance of small-scale farmers, to the poultry industry and to South African consumers, was discussed during a recent FairPlay media roundtable on food security.

Izaak Breitenbach said small scale farmers had an important role in the poultry value chain.

“We believe about one million birds per week are produced by these farmers,” he said. They did not sell to retail chains and wholesalers, but to niche markets in the informal economy.

From its regular surveys, SAPA knew that small-scale farmers were struggling because of the country’s energy crisis. They did not have the capital to mitigate the effects of load shedding, and many were going out of business.

“We need to keep these people on their farms, for our food security,” he said. Mervyn Abrahams said small-scale famers were important for consumers. There was a worldwide shift to more localised agriculture and local food systems.

“We need to bring production closer to the table where food is consumed, and we need less money spent on fuel and logistics.”

Small-scale farmers closer to the cities could open up the food system, as well as creating more competition to help contain prices.

FairPlay founder Francois Baird noted that a number of small-scale farmers had recently signed a petition calling for the removal of value added tax (VAT) from chicken feed, as this was a particularly concern for them.

An important aspect of food security was that food production brought stability and job creation to the rural areas where most chicken was produced.

“It is vital that we keep our rural areas viable and our small towns viable,” Baird said.