Categories: Articles, PoultryPublished On: 20th March 2024

Standard Bank urges support for South African poultry industry after bird flu recovery

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By Nico Groenewald, Head Agri Business

Last year the poultry sector faced unprecedented challenges after an outbreak of bird flu across the country, which forced many producers to scale down production temporarily and deal with the unfolding crisis.

The impact on supply chains and consumers was heavily felt. However, the sector has quickly recovered, with supply now matching previous years’ production. The local poultry industry is known to have good biosecurity systems in place.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), more than 10 million birds were lost from the national layer and broiler flocks (including breeders) due to the outbreak. This resulted in a temporary shortage of eggs and chicken in the country, which temporarily pushed up prices. The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has estimated that the total flock that was affected accounted for 30% of the national flock that produces table eggs and 20% of the broiler breeder flock. SAPA has estimated that the outbreak cost the industry R9,5 billion.

However, thanks to the poultry industry’s collaboration with government, the impact of the outbreak on the industry has been moderated, for example through strategies that included the extension of the laying life of non-infected flocks by two to three weeks, which increased egg-hatching capacity. SAPA has reported that the industry had imported 150 million hatching eggs, and the industry is producing at its normal rate of 21,5 million birds per week. Vaccination to minimise the incidence of outbreaks is an ongoing consideration and the importance of collaboration between industry and government is one of the success factors in crafting a sensible and lasting solution.

Nico Groenewald praised the industry for its resilience and adaptability, and for adopting valuable lessons from previous epidemics. He mentioned that poultry remains a cheap and viable protein alternative for consumers who are feeling the pinch of a continuous strain on disposable income, increased energy costs and subdued economic growth.

The poultry industry in South Africa is not only the largest source of animal protein for human consumption, but also the largest sector of South African agriculture, providing much needed employment, in a well-established value chain.

The industry needs the support and collaboration from broader industry and government. Standard Bank remains committed to supporting the poultry sector, and to providing innovative solutions and products to help farmers and businesses in the value chain. During trying times such as countering the impact of the recent bird flu on the value chain we focus on finding amicable financial solutions, in consultation with our clients, to allow for production to return to normal.

“We believe that poultry is a key driver of economic growth and social development in South Africa, and we are confident that the industry will overcome the challenges ahead and achieve their goals,” says Groenewald.

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