Cheap chicken products are flooding South Africa and costing jobs. While government can’t pull out of, or renegotiate trade agreements overnight, our largest supermarket chains could respond to this crisis quickly and save jobs if they choose to only stock South African poultry products. Click here to read more about Agoa.
In January last year, South Africa and the United States (US) secured an agreement through the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa). According to Agoa, 65 000 metric tons of poultry are to be imported to South Africa. This quota is set to grow as South African poultry production and consumption increases. This means that when local poultry producers increase their poultry production, the US, through Agoa, will pump more poultry into our market, making it virtually impossible for any South African poultry producer to thrive. South Africa’s domestic consumption is 1795 metric tons , and when compared to the 65 000 metric tons, one gains perspective of the magnitude of the challenge confronting our poultry sector.
The effects of this have already been felt. South Africa’s poultry industry says it is on the brink of collapse due to hotly-denied accusations that the European Union is dumping cheap chicken in the country in a dispute over free trade . Poultry products that come in from the US have higher food safety risks than products from other exporting countries. Cosatu echo similar sentiments, stating "our poultry industry is under severe pressure from the concessions government was forced to make to the United States to allow South Africa to remain part of the US's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement with African nations" .
Given that South Africa is legally bound to the Agoa agreement, we can call on retailers such as Shoprite and others to stock locally produced poultry products so that jobs in the poultry sector can be saved. In January, 1 350 workers were retrenched by Rainbow Chickens Limited, the country's biggest chicken producer. The latest reports also indicated that a total of 5 000 food and farm jobs could be lost following the influx of cheap chicken imports from the European Union (EU) countries .
Dear Dr Whitey Basson, CEO of Shoprite
We, the undersigned, call on you to act in the interests of ordinary South Africans on whom your businesses thrive upon by ensuring that your stores only sell locally produced poultry products. Both your brands pride themselves on being proudly South African. We call on you to back this claim by ensuring that 5000 food and farm jobs are spared.
Your claims of doing good business is under scrutiny, and as consumers, we have the power to make informed choices. We call on you to do the honourable thing.
Dear Mr Jacob G. Zuma, President of South Africa and Mr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry
We, the undersigned, call on you to work in promoting local poultry producers by enabling a favourable economic environment in which they operate. Your actions in binding South Africa through Agoa has compromised ordinary South Africans and their livelihoods. The creation of a task team by the Trade and Industry Minister to tackle the job losses in the poultry sector is nothing but a smoke-screen and a little too late.
We call on you to take immediate steps and rescind the Agoa agreement and put South Africans first. As a developing state, South Africa will greatly benefit from this.
 South African broiler meat domestic consumption by year, sourced from index mundi http://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?country=za&commodity=broiler-meat&graph=domestic-consumption
 EU dumping cheap chicken in SA, alleges poultry industry, AFP for The Citizen. Feb1, 2017.
 Government must act on poultry industry crisis, says Cosatu, Independent News. Jan 11, 2017.