Small scale poultry producers are confident that the newly-formed National Poultry Task Team will help to transform the industry. They say they’ve been excluded from transformation discussions, including the current National Poultry Master plan.

The black farmers have not been able to grow their market in order to enter the commercial space.

The poultry industry is one of the largest agricultural sub-sectors. It represented about 17% of the total gross value of agricultural production in 2018.  Yet the industry is still facing challenges.

Transformation remains a stumbling block.

Trudy Nthathe started his business 14 years ago, but he’s not moved beyond selling informally.

“We, black farmers are not really making it in terms of being commercial farmers. There is a lot of red tapes; a lot of policies that block us from becoming commercial farmers. Informal markets for us are not sustainable enough. You would sell 1 000 chickens, which will take you the whole week. And if you see you have to buy feed for the same chickens, they come to buy 100. Then you wait for another one to come to buy 100 and you don’t realise profit.”

Small players, like Nthate, say the newly-formed National Poultry Task Team should represent small scale-black farmers across the country.

“Since the President signed the master plan, we’ve been able to interrogate the master plan and we’ve also seen that it doesn’t really have our voice as black farmers. We’ve started also engaging with South African Poultry Association, which is SAPA, which is mainly previously advantaged farmers, and we realised that they cannot really speak on our behalf. They have made suggestions on transformation in terms of how it must be rolled out and we are saying it cannot happen on us without us.”

Experts in the sector agree more needs to be done to assist black-smallholder poultry farmers.

“The first one is how do you increase competitiveness in the sector and ensure that you replace the imports that are coming into the sector. One of the other things is to deal with the supply constraints, as I have talked about the issues of the feed. How do you reduce the cost of feed, but most critically, how do you grow the sector on an inclusive basis? So, what I mean by that, (is) making sure that you break the barriers that continue to exclude the emerging farmers, particularly the black, small and medium farmers,” says National Agricultural Marketing Council Chief Economist, Dr Sifiso Ntombela.

The new body wants to ensure the poultry master plan transforms the sector. The aim is for black farmers to benefit from existing opportunities.

In the video below, small scale poultry producers laud formation of National Poultry Task Team: