Mzansi’s poultry farmers face many challenges. However, through a wide range of programmes and services, the South African Poultry Farmers and Suppliers Association (SAPFSA) hopes to change that.
SAPFSA spokesperson Jay Venter believes poultry farming offers poorer communities many social and economic benefits. These potential benefits were, in fact, the reason SAPFSA was created in the first place.
“We started off in KwaZulu-Natal as the KZN Poultry Farmers and Suppliers Association. But then we found the need to develop the organisation to [have] a national footprint. With everything going on now, the unemployment, etc., we use the poultry industry to create opportunities for our rural communities. [It] is the fastest return on investment and the fastest way to grow.”
SAPFSA was founded late in 2019 and became a formalised non-profit organisation in 2020. Venter says that the organisation has already made an impact on the lives of many farmers, which is what pushed him to join it in the first place.
“What really inspires me the most today is the fact that we see people start off with 100 chicks. Within a couple of months, they are starting to produce cycles of a thousand, two, three thousand chicks. So, it is the determination of the people that drives me.”
Venter grew up farming in KwaZulu-Natal. His background in commercial broiler production as well as his commercial layer experience is what he uses to guide his work through SAPFSA. And of course, his passion for the industry. “Look, you’ve got to have passion for something in order for it to work right? It just makes waking up in the morning so much better if you enjoy what you’re doing.”
A challenging time
The avian influenza outbreak earlier this year was felt across the country’s poultry industry. South African poultry products were banned by both Hong Kong and Namibia, and the effects of the outbreak were particularly felt by broiler suppliers.
“Four of our major national contributors to the live industry for fertile eggs and broilers are out of the game and not able to supply the demand. We are currently facing a shortage of about 1.4 million day-old chicks per week.”
This shortage, says Venter, is causing a drastic increase in the cost of broilers. He says the normal price of a box of day-old chicks is about R860, but the prices have recently increased by almost 40%.
“We have, in the past month, been seeing the prices escalate to R1 200 and R1 300 for a box of day-old chickens and this is due to the demand. But we are also taking action against these suppliers who are inflating the prices like that. Just because [there is] a shortage, it does not mean that the prices [should] increase. [That’s because] the farms that still do supply, they still supply at normal prices.”
Venter also says that the poultry industry is particularly susceptible to fraudsters. He knows many people who have lost money due to scams and finds that social media is often a vehicle for these kinds of crimes. The prevalence of these fraudsters is the reason SAPFSA is running a scam awareness campaign.
“The poultry industry is riddled, absolutely riddled, with scammers. Aspiring farmers that do not know better go to the wrong places looking for poultry. [Generally], social media is good. But social media [can be] such a poison. It’s actually such a big poison because we see people lose thousands on a daily basis. So, our scam awareness project is just to create awareness around scammers in the industry.”
Expanding SAPFSA’s reach
When they first started, SAPFSA had less than 100 up-and-coming poultry farmers as members. Now, the organisation has more than doubled, and has even launched a new wing of the organisation for free-range poultry farmers.
“When we started off in 2019, we were sitting on under 100 emerging farmer members. Now, we’ve got supplier members and we’ve got farmer members. And we see anyone that makes an income from poultry as a supplier, so our membership structure can be very confusing.
“But currently, we are sitting on 367 emerging farmer members and about 42 supply members. The applications for 2022 memberships are also open now and the influx that we’ve received is absolutely phenomenal.”
Venter would like to see more investment in the poultry industry from both the private and the public sector, especially when it comes to the increasing cost of feed.
“How can our industry develop, if no focus has been given to these small little things that matter?
“If South Africa just invested half of the money that they invest in other nonsense, in supporting our own poultry infrastructure, we would definitely be able to supply South Africa’s own demand for poultry. And [ultimately], that is what it’s about.”
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