Impact of COVID-19 on poultry production – view from a woman entrepreneur
Raseto Agricultural Enterprise produces poultry on contract for Supreme Poultry. In order for us to comply with the lockdown regulations in South Africa, Supreme Poultry arranged and sent out permits that enable us to continue to perform essential services under the regulation 11B(3), Government notice R 399 in Government Gazette 43147 for all growers, casuals, washing team, etc. before the lockdown. Vaccination supplies for the chickens had been arranged as well for collection.
The COVID-19 lockdown took place at the end of the production cycle for us. The catching team continued catching the chickens, and sending them to the abattoir during the first day of lockdown. Unfortunately, the catching team faced last minute challenges while dropping off their employees at their homes, due to taxi bans after a certain hour.
The trucks that collected the chickens for slaughter were also delayed, due to the roadblocks in town. This slightly increased the mortality (Dead On Arrival, DOAs) of chickens, at the abattoir. The delay of trucks leads to a delay in catching of chickens at other farms.
The business has managed to keep all its permanent employees, as well as pay them their full salary. On the farm, the broiler production unit has not been drastically affected. Although the company was faced with a challenge the first day of lockdown, when the rental of a bobcat from a plant hire company was cancelled. With the help of another farmer, 65kms away, we were able to remove the remaining chicken manure (90 tons), in preparation for the coming cycle. Farm stores such as the local cooperative are very helpful with certain tools and inputs needed for production to continue smoothly.
In the poultry industry biosecurity is imperative so we have not had to implement many more measures to align with the newly-imposed health and safety regulations. The entire value chain has put emphasis on what they have long been preaching. In regards to health and safety measures, certificates have been given to companies that had complied, and those that still continue to comply. As a grower, quality management is taken through a Gap Management internal and external audit that takes place on the farm twice a year. Each cycle tests are taken, blood samples, boots swabs, and house swabs for all the chicken houses after disinfecting has taken place.
Supply chains have done extremely well during these trying times. Shoprite U-Save has taken mobile shops to the people. Supply chains have and will continue to play a crucial role in regards to food security, if they are not disrupted. The nation is guaranteed continuous supply of food, as all agricultural production units are still in operation. Through supply chains trading still continues, with no increase in store prices. It is important for the nation to understand the position we are in, and what an advantage we are at compared to other countries. Therefore, we should take care of our supply chains, and value chains by all means.
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