Chris Schutte, CEO of Astral Foods, South Africa's largest poultry producer, says a "lack of leadership in government" is responsible for the crisis facing the local industry. The industry has been hard hit by drought and dumping, and threatened by Eskom with power cuts because municipalities are in arrears with their payments. This would have brought poultry companies like Astral to a halt, so this month it obtained a high court order allowing it to pay Eskom directly for its usage and not the Lekwa municipality in Standerton, which owes Eskom R300-million. "So at least now Eskom will get 50% of what the municipality owes them, and as long as they do they won't cut off the supply of electricity to the town," says Schutte. The problem now is the price of electricity, which he believes is excessive, given that Eskom has a surplus.Astral is urgently investigating alternative energy sources for its 183 farms, feed mills and abattoirs. The poultry producer has announced a 54% drop in ea...

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