Chickens at Shihoko Village in Tzaneen. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Chickens at Shihoko Village in Tzaneen. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

David Wolpert doesn’t address my questions regarding chicken imports, but replies with questions of his own (Chicken Questions, September 5). I will answer his — let’s see if he will answer mine.

The 30% imports share of the local market is derived from sources including the Bureau for Agricultural Policy 2018 baseline report, which put imports at 27% currently, projected to rise to about 38% in 2027. Its 2019 report says bone-in imports alone are expected to reach 33% by 2028. In addition, Astral, SA’s largest chicken producer, put the import figure at 31% in a results presentation in 2019.

The 30,000 jobs that could be created by replacing imported chicken with local production is a calculation by the SA Poultry Association. And the Astral presentation referred to above said the industry has a legal opinion that Brazil is dumping chicken here and is considering further action.

These numbers highlight the disaster Wolpert and his importer friends have visited on the local industry. National food safety and food security are threatened. Importers have profited hugely from predatory chicken imports from Brazil and the EU, with the result that thousands of jobs have been lost and thousands more have not been created. Even if the numbers are halved, as Wolpert wants, the disaster is there for all to see.

So, does he agree that a potential solution is a quota, reducing imports to the 7% level that pertains in the EU, or a tariff rate quota, imposing tariffs in successively higher steps? Or does he prefer a peace plan that only slows the rate at which imports destroy SA chicken production?

Importers are waging war on the local chicken industry, and don’t seem likely to back off voluntarily. Only the government can stop the onslaught.

Francois Baird, FairPlay