Small-scale pig farmers who hoped that the state would save them from possible ruin are in for great disappointment. It seems there’s not much government can do amid a prediction by the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo) that those farming with 100 to 400 pigs will, in all likelihood, not survive 2022.
Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, said although they acknowledge the many problems faced by these farmers, they cannot assist them in their day-to-day operations.
“We continue to help and provide assistance where needed, not just to small-scale farmers but the whole [pork] industry by working with stakeholders such as Sappo. [We] find solutions to many challenges they are faced with such as the outbreak of swine flu and other diseases. However, there are things that we can’t help with. We can’t assist them on a day-to-day basis.”
Ngcobo said small-scale pig farmers face financial challenges like other businesses. He does, however, believe they also struggled with meeting bio-security standards which impacts their future.
Great uncertainty about the future
In an earlier Food For Mzansi interview, Sappo chief executive Johann Kotzé predicted that rising feed prices and other market uncertainties will ultimately push many of Mzansi’s small-scale farmers out of the industry.
“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.”Sappo chief executive Johann Kotzé
Ngcobo noted that Didiza’s department does not determine feed prices. Instead, it is regulated by the industry based on inflation and other economic factors. The department tries its best to create conducive platforms and regulations for small-scale pig farmers in which to operate, but it is up to farmers themselves to grab these opportunities and adhere to the law.
“We also play a facilitating role to assist farmers and connect them with abattoirs where they can sell their pigs. This is by way of making sure that they access the markets, but then again there are standards that must be met for farmers to be able to sell their pigs at these places.”
Meanwhile, small-scale pig farmer Nomathemba Langa told Food For Mzansi that she agreed with Kotzé’s prediction. Heavy rains and rising feed prices are indicative of a very tough year ahead.
“Remember as well that, due to African swine fever, many abattoirs have restrictions and not all small-scale farmers can meet the requirements,” said Langa. “So, a lot of small-scale farmers will be selling at the auctions for next to nothing and that will be the downfall of our pig farmers. You can’t be selling your pigs for less than what you’ve invested.”
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