CityPress - - Business - LE­SETJA MALOPE le­setja.malope@city­press.co.za

The coun­try’s poul­try sec­tor is still grad­u­ally shed­ding jobs de­spite the set­ting up of a task team to try and halt the cri­sis in the sec­tor, SA Poul­try As­so­ci­a­tion (Sapa) CEO Kevin Lovell said this week.

The chicken in­dus­try shed about 4 700 jobs in the last fi­nan­cial year, he added.

The African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (Agoa) poul­try import quota had not been used up, Lovell said dur­ing an in­ter­view with City Press at the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s AVI Africa con­fer­ence held at Em­per­ors Palace in Kemp­ton Park.

“The Agoa quota to import chicken into South Africa is 65 000 tons, that’s from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. About 47 500 tons came in dur­ing that time so it’s not the full quota, and in rough terms what that means is that we gave up, ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly, 4 700 jobs for the other in­dus­tries to ben­e­fit. But we al­ways knew it was a sac­ri­fice for the rest of South Africa, that it was a com­mit­ment to the coun­try and we kept it,” Lovell said.

The depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try (the dti) said in Fe­bru­ary this year that the poul­try in­dus­try em­ployed 48 000 and 63 000 peo­ple in di­rect and in­di­rect jobs re­spec­tively.

The task team, com­prised of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the dti; the de­part­ments of agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­eries (Daff) and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment; as well as the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, was es­tab­lished by gov­ern­ment in Jan­uary to deal with the cri­sis in the poul­try sec­tor that saw the in­dus­try bleed­ing jobs at an alarm­ing rate.

The team is sup­posed to pro­pose a range of short- and longer-term in­ter­ven­tions re­lat­ing to trade mea­sures, health and qual­ity is­sues, com­pet­i­tive­ness, in­dus­try growth and trans­for­ma­tion, in­dus­trial fi­nanc­ing, in­cen­tives and de­mand side in­ter­ven­tions.

The sec­tor in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, Poul­try SA, rep­re­sents busi­ness. Labour is rep­re­sented by the Food and Al­lied Workers’ Union.

Ef­forts to get in­for­ma­tion from the dti about the lat­est re­gard­ing the task team as well as chicken import in­for­ma­tion from its sis­ter depart­ment, Daff, were fruit­less de­spite sev­eral at­tempts to get com­ment from their re­spec­tive spokesper­sons.

Sapa has pre­vi­ously said that for ev­ery 10 000 tons of chicken meat im­ported into South Africa, which is one of the best pro­duc­ers of chicken in the world, the coun­try loses slightly more than 1 000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs.

The re­ported logic behind the Agoa poul­try quota was to al­low a lim­ited quan­tity of un­fair trade so that other in­dus­tries that ben­e­fit from Agoa could con­tinue to ben­e­fit from the agree­ment.

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