Innovation needed in flightless SA poultry industry

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The SA Poultry Association has done it again. This time the embattled, tight-knit poultry industry has managed to block EU imports, thanks to its cosy relationship with the International Trade Administration Commission.

The claim is that “dumping of EU poultry products has been taking place in South Africa, and that the appropriate measures have been put in place to correct this”.

One wonders who these appropriate measures will benefit: the consumers or the industry that has failed to innovate and compete with the rest of the world?

To make matters worse, emerging poultry farmers have lambasted the local poultry association for not making development funds available, even though the industry made more than R4 billion in revenue last year.

Kevin Lovell, the chief executive of the SA Poultry Association, claims that his movement and the local industry is not afraid of competition.

If this is the case, then why are profit margins under such strain and why are the companies performing so poorly despite favourable agricultural conditions that lowered the price of yellow maize, which is a key input in chicken feed?

If they are not afraid of fair competition why are consumers subjected to brine-injected chicken which manipulates the weight of the product, leaving unsuspecting consumers in the dark?

The sad reality is that the local industry is not producing enough or developing the industry to the extent where local players can compete in the international market, giving consumers a break.

But the biggest problem is the lack of development, as expressed by emerging poultry farmers who are looking for assistance and access to lucrative markets.

Instead of hoarding all the cash and pointing fingers and supplying local consumers with brine-injected birds, how about going back to the drawing board and putting industry innovation on the agenda.

E-tolls

The last time anybody acted with passion, clarity and a conscience in the interest of the economy and the public, they were told to lie down before they hurt themselves.

Only recently have we been told that the breath of fresh air that came with Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi at the height of the platinum strike actually felt like a cold front to the ruling ANC.

It wasn’t that Ramatlhodi was doing a bad thing but it was unpartisan that he would use people like the EFF’s Dali Mpofu and Bishop Jo Seoka, who are not aligned with the ANC and would therefore dilute the effectiveness of the solution.

And so Ramatlhodi sat back with the home stretch within reach and the ANC lost out on an easy opportunity to attach its mast to something positive.

And now Gauteng Premier David Makhura, with all the grace of a dung beetle, cuts a lonely figure as he tugs and heaves the heavy load that is the e-toll infrastructure up the steep incline of negative public opinion.

Nary a word has come from the ANC in support or condemnation of his efforts as he sets up a body to review the revenue collection programme of the SA National Roads Agency.

Maybe he alienated himself quite badly on June 27, when he announced the review during his State of the Province address in Thokoza on the East Rand.

“We shall set up a panel to review the impact of e-tolls and invite new proposals on how we can find a lasting solution to this matter, working with the national government, municipalities and all sectors of society,” he said at the time.

Tomorrow he is expected to announce members of a panel that will review the impact of e-tolls in Gauteng.

The general, hardworking, financially hemmed in public is behind him every inch of the way on this one.

But the important question goes begging: does he have the support of the ANC?

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions by Ayanda Mdluli and Banele Ginindza.


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