ProudlySA: Poultry industry is an important part of agriculture sector, Newsline

By Eustace Mashimbye

JOHANNESBURG – The poultry industry is an important part of the agricultural sector.

The early and modest successes of its sector master plan are an example of what can be done when stakeholders in the public and private sector collaborate for the good of an industry.

The plan, which was signed at the SA Investment Conference in November last year, was developed by the government, poultry producers, processors, exporters, importers and organised labour.

Since then, local poultry production has shown moderate growth despite Covid-19 challenges, increasing by 5 percent during the first eight months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

The plan hinges on increasing local consumption and growing demand while addressing exports locally produced cooked and raw chicken products.

Poultry producers have pledged R1.7 billion to expand investments and improve production capacity.

Some of these projects have already been completed with 428 new jobs created.

In addition to these infrastructure and capacity building projects, the government has also implemented higher tariffs on certain cuts of poultry, and has begun an investigation to create a more effective trade environment for poultry.

The clothing, textile, footwear and leather sector drafted a master plan that was signed by all parties in November 2019. The sector was hit especially hard in the early stages of lockdown as retailers were closed.

As a consequence, sales in the first half of the year fell 20 percent whilst production declined as much as 30 percent.

The plan is now being implemented and despite early losses, stakeholders are confident of increasing volumes of locally made clothing for local consumption from the 44 percent currently estimated to 65 percent by 2030.

These commitments are expected to add 120 000 jobs across the clothing and textile value chain.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has been quoted as saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has made the argument for localisation even more urgent and important, and that the only way to stimulate local production is by first stimulating local demand.

The master plans are collective responsibility for South Africa, the two sectors as well as for

the automotive industry, steel and furniture.

They need the government, private sector and individual consumers to make their own commitments to make conscious local procurement decisions.

Buying local has ceased to be a feel-good factor. It is now an imperative if we are to get our

economy moving. As we ease into the next stage of lockdown, with fewer restrictions and borders opening up, it is a reality that South Africa may face an avalanche of cheap,

imported goods as other countries seek to stimulate their own economies.

The poultry industry is anticipating a ‘tsunami’ of chicken that has been frozen overseas, waiting for imports into SA to resume. We may also expect cheap imports of clothing items and whilst it may be tempting to opt for anything which is even only marginally cheaper than our own, we should not be fooled – it will cost the country dearly in the long run, if we continue to support imports.

In his song “Ungowami” which loosely translated, means “you are mine”, Semito says this

country is ours and now more than ever, we have collectively to protect its interests,

safeguard that which we already have and grow its economy in order that we all reap the rewards.

Eustace Mashimbye is chief executive of Proudly South African.