When the poultry industry master plan was signed a year ago, no one could have predicted the devastating effects that a pandemic would have on the world during 2020. While the South African government is working out how to deliver on the promises of increased local production and job creation in terms of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has announced that progress has been made towards increasing exports of poultry.

The master plan is a collaborative effort between government, poultry producers, importers, exporters and labour that aims to stabilise and grow the poultry sector. To this end, the poultry industry pledged an investment of R1,7 billion in growing capacity, of which R1 billion has already been rolled out. This has increased production by 5%.

Increasing exports is one of the key objectives of the poultry industry master plan aimed at growing the industry. This effort is being driven by the minister of trade, industry and competition, Ebrahim Patel and minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza.

“It is exactly a year since the master plan was signed and it is gratifying that despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we can confirm that certain crucial steps have been taken towards enabling more exports of South African chicken,” said Izaak Breitenbach, general manager of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation. “It is to the credit of ministers Patel and Didiza that local chicken products can now be exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and hopefully also soon to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.”

Successful negotiations lead the way

This follows successful negotiations by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to procure a new export certificate that opens the UAE to exports of poultry products. The export certificate harmonises not only the required disease-prevention measures but also the practice of compartmentalisation. It also includes the monitoring processes that test for residues of medication used to treat or prevent disease.

“Compartmentalisation is a practice that the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) introduced to alleviate restrictions on international trade that are imposed when a case of a disease such as avian influenza is identified in a country. It allows for the region to be divided into different ‘compartments’, so that specific farms or facilities that are declared disease free can continue to trade despite an outbreak elsewhere in the country,” explains Breitenbach.

“We are very excited to confirm that the first producer is already exporting produce to the UAE. Furthermore, we anticipate market access negotiations to take place with Saudi Arabia in the near future,” he says.

Further steps to facilitate exports

Steps are also being taken to facilitate exports to our neighbours belonging to the South African Customs Union (SACU). South Africa has export certificates in place for Namibia, Botswana and Eswatini. However, access is restricted in terms of these countries’ quota policy. The expectation is that the SACU arrangements will be smoothed soon in terms of the master plan to enable more exports.

While exporting to the European Union (EU) is high on the export planning agenda, this is particularly challenging due to the EU import protocols that must be met. However, according to Breitenbach a gap analysis has already determined the compliance systems that are required for EU exports. Compartmentalisation will be an important aspect of an EU export agreement, and the DALRRD has already addressed it in negotiations that are underway. – Press release, SA Poultry Association