The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries today received a report from the South African Poultry Association on the impact of avian flu in South Africa. As of 9 January 2018, no new outbreaks have been reported on commercial farms. However, since June 2017, there has been a steady decline in the production of eggs and chickens, and South Africa has to rely on imported chickens to meet the demand.
The presentation indicated that the total value of the industry is R46 billion. Due to avian flu, birds were culled, resulting in a loss of R954 million. The Committee had various questions for the Association and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that were not covered in the report.
The Committee Chairperson, Ms Rosina Semenya, was concerned that 1 300 people had lost their jobs and asked what was being done to avoid job losses. She also wanted to know if small farmers and traders were being compensated for losses.
“We have received the report from SA Poultry and are awaiting reports from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 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,” Ms Semenya said.
“We would also like to know what happens if there is a recurrence of avian flu, as there are some ostriches that are still infected,” she said.
Further information was also requested on whether imported chicken that had expired is accepted and repackaged. The Chair advised both the Department and the Association to meet and then table a comprehensive report before the Committee on issues that were raised in this meeting.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee On Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Rosina Machwene Semenya