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Wednesday, 15 November 2023 20:21

Government to continue imports to cover poultry shortages.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) says there are enough eggs and more to come, with 9 million fertilised eggs have already been imported.

This comes after a wave of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks ravaged poultry flocks across South Africa.

According to the department, the outbreak was now under control and egg stock levels were rising steadily, "there is no need for panic buying".

Spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo says "We are happy that the HPI outbreak is under control and that 70% of farms that were not infected continue to produce eggs and chickens. Since the egg production cycle is not too long, we expect the situation to normalise early next year. We will continue to import more eggs should the situation not improve"

In an attempt to avoid shortages for the festive season, the government has imported 9 million fertilised eggs, 37 802 tons of day-old chicks, 62 metric tons of Egg products and 30 986 metric tons of poultry meat.

Ngcobo says there are few open import permits for eggs and poultry products from a few countries, including Brazil, USA, Argentina, and others, which have been exporting eggs to South Africa for quite some time.

"As a department, we don't dictate which countries should make business sense for South African retailers to import eggs from but only ensure that biosecurity risk assessments are conducted when importers apply for import permits. 

"It does not matter for us which country importers apply to import eggs from for as long as we are satisfied with biosecurity matters in exporting countries irrespective of whether that country is Kenya or USA."

Ngcobo says the import of table eggs, fertilised eggs, pasteurised eggs, egg powder and liquid eggs has been going on for many years and has not only started with the current outbreak.

Meanwhile Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, says the agricultural sector has demonstrated its resilience and capability to support South Africa's overall economic recovery and growth, both in terms of job creation and contribution to the economy.

This comes after StatsSA released the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) data on Tuesday, which showed that the agricultural sector has once again created new jobs amounting to 61 000 in the third quarter of 2023, increasing the total employment in agriculture to 956 000. 

Didiza said she is satisfied with the agricultural sector's positive contribution to the country’s job creation.

"This is the highest employment figure in agriculture since the start of the modern democratic era. The last time the agricultural sector recorded a million jobs was in 1993, the era which was underpinned by subsidies," said Didiza. 

The QLFS indicated that the total number of employed people in the country increased by 399 000 to 16.7 million in the third quarter of 2023, compared to 16.3 million in the second quarter of 2023. 

These changes in employment have resulted in the official unemployment rate decreasing by 0.7 of a percentage point from 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023 to 31.9% in the third quarter of 2023. 

Didiza said the latest employment figures suggest that the economy is gradually recovering and starting to create some jobs.

"The positive jobs in agriculture attest to the continuous commitment by government, industry, labour, and other value chain players to implement inclusive growth and job-creating measures contained under the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan. 

"The resuscitation of agriculture in rural areas and continued expansion of export opportunities are amongst the enablers that have brought growth and stability in the sector," Didiza said.