The poultry sector condemns unrest

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15 July 2021

The poultry industry condemns in the strongest terms the current spree of violence, looting and destruction of infrastructure, which will have a lasting impact on all South Africans. The poultry industry, under the sector master plan, has been working tirelessly to create jobs in an environment of growing unemployment and transforming the industry to open up opportunities for more emerging farmers to own businesses and farms.

It has invested in excess of R1 billion to make this a reality. During the past couple of days, the industry has been beset by violent mobs of thousands of people invading farms, stealing poultry livestock and equipment, destroying infrastructure and endangering the lives of industry employees.

Numerous cases of arson have been recorded, and threats to burning
down large poultry processing plants have been real. Whilst the industry grapples with the impact of highly pathogenic bird flu, the farm invasions have destroyed all biosecurity measures present on those production units, and these flocks are now at risk of infection.

Supply chains have been severely disrupted with logistics services and distribution centres being forced to close. The movement of poultry products and other essential food items to South African consumers has been hindered, if not completely halted in certain sectors. The retail and fast foods sectors have been hard hit with the looting of shopping malls, retail stores and the destruction of infrastructure.

The cost of these losses is incalculable and mounting day by day. The poultry industry at present has no way to move fresh products to the market with the severe disruptions to delivery channels. Storage capacity for the frozen products at our member’s operations is limited, with no way of currently accessing frozen outside storage. To add to the challenges the ability to move animal feed to poultry farms and other livestock sectors have been severely disrupted, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. This can lead to a massive animal welfare issue for the industry.

Day-old poultry stock that could not be moved to farms across the country for placement has had to be euthanized. These acts of violence, lawlessness and looting are endangering the poultry sector that is key to food security in South Africa, an industry whose finances were already under enormous pressure due to high input costs, the impact of Covid-19 and hard lockdowns, and recently the bird flu outbreak.

The destruction of infrastructure seen over the past days will have grave consequences for South Africa, negatively impacting future investment, economic growth and transformation, and will increase hunger due to broken food supply chains and rising costs.

The South African Poultry Association laments the long-lasting effect that this situation will have on all communities, and supports the government in all efforts to restore the safety and stability of our country. We call on the President and law enforcement agencies to enforce the upholding of the rule of law and to arrest and prosecute all those involved in sabotaging our socioeconomic stability as witnessed over the last few days.

There is enough evidence on social media platforms to identify those
complicit in creating instability and fueling criminality, and we call on law enforcement agencies to act immediately against these treasonous individuals.

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