Small-scale pig farmers face bloody axe

Rising feed prices and other market uncertainties will ultimately push many of Mzansi’s small-scale farmers out of the industry, predicts SAPPO chief executive Johann Kotzé

Producers who farm with between 100 and 400 pigs will, most likely, not survive the predicted tough economic outlook for 2022, believes SAPPO. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzans

Producers who farm with between 100 and 400 pigs will, most likely, not survive the predicted tough economic outlook for 2022, believes SAPPO. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Many small-scale pig farmers will not survive 2022. This is the prediction of Johann Kotzé, chief executive of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO). He is expecting a tough year ahead for the pork industry.

Farmers are under pressure due to market uncertainties, including rising feed prices, which will ultimately push many small-scale farmers out of the industry, says Kotzé.

“I suspect we’ll lose many farmers who farm between 100 and 400 pigs. They’re really feeling the pinch. The industry had also suffered from the impact of African swine fever in 2021. This has made things difficult.”

Zolani Sinxo: Your prediction that many small-scale farmers will be axed might be a shocker for Food For Mzansi readers. Let’s unpack the factors influencing your prediction.

Johann Kotzé: The interim informal sector is not profitable for them and, most importantly, they are struggling to buy feed for their pigs. This places many farmers to resort to kitchen waste and this also is not recommended as it threatens food security. Feeding waste is not actually wrong, but some food waste puts animals at risk of diseases. Many of these pigs sometimes find it very difficult to be accepted in the markets because of the risks they are associated with.

It’s been a tough two years with the Covid-19 pandemic, but if you had to give a five-year overview, how did things go in the pork industry? Has the demand for pork increased?

The demand for pork has increased. We are doing excellently. There is a massive demand for pork because of the low retail price. However, the difficulty is that the farmers are not doing excellently and when there’s too much pressure on production profits and when your margins are low, the smaller-scale pig farmers are going to fall.

Large-scale farmers can survive because they can buy in bulk. This means even though the industry is doing well, the smaller farmers are not doing well. This means we are going to lose the smaller farmers.

If you had to look in your crystal ball, what’s your projection for the next five years?

We are seeing a lot of people immigrating to pork, or rather choosing to eat pork over other meat diets because of its low prices. We know other meats products have become quite expensive, so we are seeing a great future for the next five years. Beef prices are quite high, and lamb prices are going through the roof. I don’t think these prices will go down soon. As the pork industry, we are currently well-positioned in the markets. We will continue to be a protein of choice because we are affordable.

SAPPO does quite a bit to support small-scale farmers. Tell us about some of the initiatives.

We do have membership programmes where we try to assist members in terms of cost-effective farming methods and reducing production costs. We also link our members with abattoirs, making it easy for them to sell their products in the market. As SAPPO we continue to mentor our small-scale farmers in terms of finding effective ways to mitigate the risks and ensure they are exposed to many markets.

What are some of the things that you are most excited about for 2022?

The industry continues to show positive signs in terms of growth. We remain positive and believe everything will work out well despite the challenges. We are motivated by the mindset of our people who continue to turn every challenge into an opportunity. What excites me is the positive attitude and the determination to succeed. We try to survive at all costs.

ALSO READ: ‘Start big,’ advises Gauteng pig farmer

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