Export to UAE ‘a huge win for poultry industry’

Halala! Soon our tasty home-grown chickens will be exported to the UAE with Saudi Arabia and other countries also on the cards. Experts credit the work done by minister Ebrahim Patel and Thoko Didiza for this great win

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The South African government has successfully negotiated a new export certificate for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This follows negotiations by, among others, the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. The result is a new export certificate that opens the UAE for South African poultry products.

According to the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) access to more countries are expected to follow soon. This is to increase local production and job creation in terms of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan.

Neighbouring countries

Steps are also being taken to facilitate exports to Mzansi’s neighbours belonging to the South African Customs Union (SACU).

South Africa already 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 in terms of the master plan to enable more exports.

EXPORT: Izaak Breitenbach, general manager of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Izaak Breitenbach, general manager of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Izaak Breitenbach, general manager of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation, is pleased with the department’s achievement. He credits the contribution of Ebrahaim Patel and Thoko Didiza, the ministers of trade and industry and agriculture, land reform and rural development, respectively.

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“Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, we can confirm that certain crucial steps have been taken towards enabling more exports of South African chicken. It is to the credit of Patel and Didiza that local chicken products can now be exported to the UAE, and hopefully also soon to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.”

Experts say while this could be beneficial for the local poultry industry, we should not forget to caution the realities.

Soybean prices

Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), says the UAE deal will expand opportunities for those already exporting.

EXPORT: Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC).
Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist at the NAMC. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

However, the key concern is whether our poultry industry will be able to meet the production that is required to meet those markets. This includes the demand from our local market.

“We tend to import a lot of chicken from Brazil and the USA and then we face the problem of increased of soyabean prices,” says Ntombela. 

He explains that “surging soyabean prices tend to impact the price of feed which impacts the growth of these chickens. This then limits productivity, profitability as well as the capacity to produce more chickens for farmers.”

ALSO READ: Poultry industry curbed by soybean prices

Ntombela says while South Africa is increasing the export market for chickens and have signed and industry master plan, “we have to understand that the feed component is a very important aspect of it.”

‘Open up the industry’

Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO
Dr John Purchase, the CEO of Agbiz. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Dr John Purchase, chief executive of Agbiz, welcomed the new export market development.

He says despite the fact that Mzansi imports more chickens than it exports, the UAE deal is of great benefit to the local market.

“We are a net importer of poultry, but what generally happens is that we get brown meat dumped into South Africa in various areas, or exported very cheaply. You can’t compete with that. In many Europeanand Western countries, like the United States, they only eat the breast meat. The rest is not really used and that gets exported.”

Purchase describes the poultry trade issue as complex.

“It is not whole chicken that is necessarily exported. It’s legs and wings and breasts. You can be a net importer of food, but also export at the same time, depending on what type of poultry product you export. So, we welcome any export market that can be development by government.”

Purchase indicates that Mzansi needs to open up the agricultural market space for new entrepreneurs to enter and produce more products.

ALSO READ: Master plan to prevent chickens coming home to roost

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