AFRICA - African countries are increasingly becoming a lucrative destination for American and European poultry exports with top five producer Spain raising its exports to South Africa by a massive 1064 per cent, as well as registering significant increases for other regional countries such as Benin, Togo and Gabon.
Astral warns of hard times ahead as South Africa agrees US market access
The US is also bidding to be a major exporter of poultry to South Africa despite initial reluctance by SA to open up its markets. Officials in South Africa have had to be cajoled into a deal with the US under the AGOA initiative, although the local poultry industry has raised complaints over loss of their markets to the imports.
South African poultry producers such as Astral are doing well ahead of restoration of the US imports of chicken meat. South Africa said on November 17 that it had signed up to a veterinary agreement with the US to allow for the import of about 650,000 tonnes of chicken per year, bringing to an end months of disagreements over health concerns by SA, the continent’s second largest economy after Nigeria.
The poultry division of Astral boosted its full year revenues for the year to the end of September which climbed up by 17 per cent.
Chris Schutte, the chief executive of Astral has warned of tough times ahead for chicken producers, adding that drought conditions that most countries in the southern African region are grappling with will worsen worries for poultry farmers.
"The poultry industry will be on the wrong side of the stick because of us making a sacrifice by allowing the US to dump excess poultry at such a low cost. It will be the smaller guys who don’t have strong balance sheets that are likely to go out of business first,” Mr Schutte said.
Experts say dry conditions in the region will drive up costs for feeds as agricultural output is likely to be much lower. Competition for scarce produce such as maize and other corn crops for human consumption and for livestock feeds has also been projected to drive up the cost of feeds.
Ghana, Zanzibar improving local poultry industries
Ghana is another African country that this month entered into agreements with the US to support agricultural and poultry development in the west African country.
Illegal imports of poultry products have also been problematic for other west African countries such as Nigeria, which has had to destroy seized contraband.
"When the government of Ghana asked for assistance to improve its poultry sector, USDA and its partners were ready to help. We are happy to be here today with ACDI/VOCA and the American Soybean Association to launch new economic development and producer outreach initiatives," said the US Deputy Agriculture Secretary.
The cooperative and development agreements have a combined value of about $57 million and will target producer groups and cooperatives in a bid to have them access improved quality feeds and veterinary services. This is expected to result in improved quality poultry products and boosting incomes for chicken and other poultry products producers.
Ghana has also given compensation to poultry farmers who made losses owing to recent outbreaks of avian flu that hit the country. The farmers lost a total of about 44,144 birds due to the outbreak, with the compensation they received covering up to 90 per cent of damages.
"The Ghana Government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is fully aware of the importance of payment of compensation to affected poultry farmers in the wake of the outbreaks of bird flu in the country. Such compensation payment will certainly encourage early reporting and contribute to control activities," said Minister, Fifi Kwetey.
In the east African country of Zanzibar, the government is helping poultry producers, especially the small scale and backyard producers to adhere to growing guidelines to help curb the spread of diseases which cut production and earnings.
Zanzibar Economic Empowerment and Women development Minister, Zainab Omar Mohamed said “it is good news that many women are getting into chicken keeping projects” and called for recognition of their efforts and contribution towards poultry production in the country.