Picture: REUTERS/PAULO WHITAKER
Picture: REUTERS/PAULO WHITAKER

As a farmer I understand economics, but the wheeling and dealing Mike Schussler writes about is so shady that it leaves me dizzy (“Why do Brazil’s chickens cross the ocean? To fly over SA tariffs,” June 2).

It makes sense that Brazil, as one of the world’s biggest exporters of chicken, would know all the tricks in the book to keep their poultry industry at the top, and that there is always a bigger picture than the one right in front of us.

Schussler points out that Brazilian farmers make no profit on the chicken being exported to SA, but as he suggests, the bigger picture is that profits are definitely being made elsewhere, to allow this price-cutting to take place. Why else would they continue at a loss?

The economics of poultry farming in SA is very different. In my case, as a contract grower in the North West, we take in 55,000 chicks every 32-day cycle and raise them on behalf of a big producer, which buys them back from me when they reach slaughter size.

I have 12 full-time workers who depend on me for their living, and we all rely on the market staying strong, so that our client does not scale down the number of cycles in my calendar.

Dumped Brazilian chicken is a real threat to our market, and the notion that an influential country is scheming to evade tariffs, which will literally cost SA workers their jobs, is a big cause for concern.

As proud South Africans we should not allow this to take place; we should put pressure on our government to police the tariffs, and as consumers we should buy local chicken and support all local food-producing industries.

Jake Mokwena
Owner of Kwena Chicks and board member of the SA Poultry Association

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