Johannesburg – The National Freedom Party is calling for an end to the importation of chickens.

This comes as media reports emerged that some 3 500 workers in the chicken farming industry will be retrenched this year.

Several chicken companies have been battling as a result of chickens being imported from countries such as the US as they are not able to effectively compete.

Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), South Africa agreed to allow chickens to be imported into the country so it can benefit from trade benefits with the US.

When SA lifted the barriers to US poultry, beef and pork imports, the US government said this would likely increase the sales of those products by about $160 million a year.

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Mike Brown, President of the US National Chicken Council, said last March that said close to $100 million of that would be chicken exports.

In a statement, the political party said it is government’s responsibility to ensure the South African public is aware of the ramifications of the imports, adding that government should be supporting local businesses.

“As the party, we urge people to support local businesses and do away with imported chickens in order to save our fellow South Africa’s jobs in poultry industry.”

Spokesman Sabelo Sigudu argues in the statement, issued under his name, that the chickens are genetically modified and can be “poisonous”.