While SA records a huge economic growth, Limpopo residents are called to brace themselves for a chicken-less festive season as the province is fast running out of processed chicken meat.
The the Limpopo Poultry Farmers’ Association (Lipfa) issued this warning to Limpopo residents while accusing the provincial government of failing to make the Lebowakgomo abattoir available for use by emerging local farmers.
The association blames the government for abandoning its R70-million funded abattoir – with a capacity to slaughter 20000 chickens per shift- leaving behind more than 500 local chicken farmers and workers stranded since 2005.
Lipfa spokesman Lawrance Mabusela was quoted as saying “Lipfa members are now up in arms over the provincial government’s failure to appoint a strategic investor to operate the facility after several years of postponements and cancellations.” He added that it’s been over three years since the abattoir was last refurbished.
Mabusela further blamed the shortage of processed chicken meat on the closure of a privately-owned abattoir in the province.
According to him, the closure of the abattoir left African chicken farmers with no choice but to close shop. He said the situation in the province was ‘desperate’ which needs urgent government intervention.
“More than 500 emerging chicken farmers and workers are now jobless because of the non-operation of the Lebowakgomo Abattoir.
“But the situation could be turned around if the provincial government intervenes,” he said, adding that Limpopo is the only province that apparently imports half of its chicken meat from other provinces.
“We’re currently engaging with the Limpopo Economic Development Agency to try and make the abattoir operational.” he added.
The association however, said they had sent several letters and even marched to Premier Stanley Mathabatha’s office to appeal “for mercy” to address their plight.
“If government doesn’t re-open the abattoir the situation is going to get out of control”
“The issue of going chicken-less is a country-wide challenge, and we can’t divorce ourselves from what is happening nationally. We are, however, addressing those challenges and hope a solution would be found soon,” Kenny Mathivha, Mathabatha’s spokesman said, confirming the urgency of government intervention
Meanwhile, the abattoir’s former manager Nelson Petja said Limpopo residents will suffer lack of meat because retailers that usually get chicken meat at cheaper prices were now struggling.
“We’re now left with a situation where we have to import chicken meat from other countries like Brazil while we have our own facility which can be used profitably,” he said.
Statistics SA noted in its recent data, that while other export commodities in the country grew, SA agriculture dwindled away to keep up its sixth consecutive quarter of economic decline.
The real value of the agriculture industry nosedived from R77,8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014 to R66,7 billion in the second quarter of 2016.