I refer to Francois Baird’s letter (“No, exports won’t save the poultry sector”, February 1), as well as numerous others by different parties on the same subject published over the last few days.

The much-vaunted Poultry Master Plan, an excellent but in my view partial document, does not, as claimed, have chicken exports as its main aim. The government has made it clear that the protection of and increased market share for local poultry are the plan’s primary objectives.

All signatories to this plan are aware of this fact. Baird is quite correct in his assertion that targeted exports to the EU and other countries are hampered by regulations. Simply put, because of SA’s long history with Newcastle disease, SA’s veterinary authorities are unable to certify that we are “ND free”.

Reading the master plan, it is evident that importers’ market share will drop. I don’t personally see that as all doom and gloom. Many importers are honest and resourceful, and actually support local poultry in the marketplace. They should all avoid unnecessary friction and sit around a table to devise strategies to grow the entire poultry industry in SA. All will benefit as will our agricultural economy.

This is not far-fetched. Local players can modify their production runs to supply some of the product importers require. Some already do. The main sense of such a strategy should be to supply quality chicken with healthy protein at a reasonable price to our hard-pressed consumers, and preserve and create much needed jobs in an economically ravaged employment market.

Poverty and hunger are our biggest and most urgent challenges. We must overcome these.

David Wolpert

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