Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The poultry industry could create up to 50,000 direct and indirect jobs, including grain jobs, if SA did not import chickens.

This is according to the South African Poultry Association (Sapa), which says the industry is in trouble because of an oversupply of chickens from the EU flooding the local market.

The association, which appeared in Parliament this week, is lobbying the government to intervene, failing which thousands of jobs could be lost.

The survival of this industry — food security, the rural economy and 130,000 workers and their families — is largely in the hands of government

Drought, which resulted in a spike in the price of chicken feed, also contributed to the industry’s distress.

Sapa CEO Kevin Lovell said: "The survival of this industry — food security, the rural economy and 130,000 workers and their families — is largely in the hands of government…. If government helps us survive, we can grow and contribute substantially to the future of our country."

Lovell said some companies were about to shed a few thousand jobs. In February, Rainbow retrenched 1,350 workers, including managers. Country Bird was set to close down its Mahikeng abattoir and 939 direct and 1,605 indirect jobs would be lost without government intervention, said Lovell.

The local industry and unions argue that the EU is selling chicken legs, thighs and wings below cost. But the EU has said its farmers are simply more competitive than their counterparts in SA.

In December, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies approved a provisional 13.9% safeguard duty on European bone-in chicken in terms of SA’s economic partnership agreement with the EU. Sapa said this was not enough. The association had applied for a 37% safeguard duty on the imports in 2015.

DA MP and agriculture spokeswoman Annette Steyn said on Thursday the poultry industry needed protection, especially after the drought period when the cost of chicken feed increased massively.

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