Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/INLSA
JOHANNESBURG - The SA Poultry Association (Sapa) bemoaned the impact of the avian flu scourge on the R46billion local industry, saying the country had to rely on imported chickens to meet the demand for egg and chicken production. 

The association made the remarks during a presentation at the portfolio committee on agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Parliament in Cape Town yesterday. The H5N8 bird flu strain, which emerged in the country in June last year, saw hundreds of thousands of birds culled, resulting in a R954m loss, according to Sapa. And about 1300 workers lost their jobs as a result of the scourge. 

Portfolio committee chairperson Rosina Semenya said they were awaiting reports from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) and from the Food and Allied Workers Union. 

“We need a combined approach to revitalise this aspect of the sector in order for the farm workers to be trained and upskilled in improving bio-security measures so that they are not laid off,” she said. Daff Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said a task team has been set, led by the Department of Trade and Industry, and that the Daff and Sapa would be participants. “It (task team) has come up with an action plan,” said Molapo. Fawu could not be reached.