In an increasingly tough farming environment, poultry farmers said it is likely to be a bleak end of the year for them as the avian flu causes havoc across the country. Poultry farmers in Gauteng, North West and the Western Cape have been hit hard and consumers are warned to expect the worst in coming months.
Customers will be experiencing chicken and egg shortages while producers are counting the losses that will never be regained.
A poultry farmer in Limpopo Maphate Rakoma said the disease has started affecting her directly as she does not have enough stock of day-old chicks.
“The shortage of chicks has a negative impact on my projections and plans because this means as we are heading to the festive season we know consumption of chicken will be very high. I will be losing a lot as I will not be able to deliver products to my market,” Rakoma said.
“At the moment I do not have a backup plan because once one starts doing shortcuts, the quality of the products becomes a problem,” she added.
Rakoma said her production since bird flu hit the industry has gone down by 3 000 chicks, meaning she could no longer provide for her market.
Farmer and CEO of the African Poultry Producers Kobedi Pilane said egg-laying chicken farms are the most affected and Gauteng is one of the provinces he anticipates would have a serious shortage of eggs.
“The disease is extremely rife because it has claimed over 5 million chickens for farmers. It is a big problem for big producers, the impact is passed on to small producers who rely on supply for stock from big producers, so we are sitting with a crisis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Northern Cape poultry farmer Nqobile Khumalo said she is lucky to have done training on poultry production which highlighted different diseases associated with chickens.
“We have not been affected but what I will advise to fellow farmers in the poultry industry is to be exposed to as much training as possible and vaccine or test for different diseases, it is expensive but worth it,” she said.
Hitting the industry hard
Technical veterinarian from Afrivet Dr Sakhi Nkosi said the significance of poultry production in South Africa cannot be overstated as it is a critical commodity in the agricultural sector.
“According to the South African Poultry Association (Sapa), poultry production accounted for a substantial 16.6% of the total agricultural gross value and a striking 39.6% of the gross value of animal products.
“This highlights the important role that poultry plays in the country’s agricultural sector and overall economy,” he said.
Nkosi said the bird flu outbreak has a profound impact not only on the economy but on the daily lives of consumers who prefer poultry products because of their reasonable prices.
According to Nkosi, the disease might lead to higher prices of chicken products which would negatively affect the already constrained consumer.
“The health of the poultry industry is linked to the well-being of South African households and the broader economy.
“Managing diseases like bird flu is critical in ensuring continued access to the essential source of protein and to main economic stability in the country,” he said.
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