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Durban - South Africa would need to do more to produce its own chicken if it was to overcome the “dumping” of cheap poultry imports from the EU.

“First thing is we need to ramp up our production and then explore other ways and means on how to deal with current issues,” said the deputy director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mooketsa Ramasodi, on Wednesday.

He was responding to the portfolio committee about questions on challenges facing the poultry industry by the Food and Allied Workers Union and South African Poultry Association.

It is demanding the reduction by 50 percent of poultry “dumping”. It has also called on the government to help “distressed” farms where the retrenchment of workers had started.

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Ramasodi said South Africa was not a major exporter of chicken, producing just 1.7 million tons while consuming 2.1 million tons. The leading producers of chicken were China, Brazil and the EU.

Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, told the parliamentary committee that the issue around dumping was not only limited to tariffs arising from the trade agreement between the US and 39 sub-Saharan countries.

“We, together with the minister of Trade and Industry, have met the EU to try to check why they do not accept our own white meat (chicken breast), so that it can offset that which they dump on us.”

Compounding the problem was the drought.“It means what is used for feed is imported. Production of one-day chicks has been very low,” he said.