South African potato producers and farms may have to cease or scale down their operations due to the increased amount of dumped low-cost frozen processed potato products from the EU region in the country.
According to Potatoes South Africa, if the current surplus of dumped frozen processed potato products from the Netherlands and Belgium continues it may severely impact local farmers and producers. This will have a domino effect resulting in job losses and affecting the economy.
Although there have been anti-dumping duty protection regulations in place, these have recently lapsed and could result in a surplus of stock dumping from the EU regions.
Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (PSA) explains that while the industry has faced several challenges, it is now critical for locals to support the South African potato industry: “South African producers have been experiencing many challenges brought on by COVID-19, the cost-price squeeze, rising input costs and most recently, the riots in parts of the country. Furthermore, our producers don’t benefit from the financial support afforded to EU farmers by their governments and simply cannot compete with below-cost products being dumped in our country. With less demand for local produce, there will be a ripple effect on livelihoods and job losses, not to mention the effect on the economy.”
Jobs at risk
As a staple for many South Africans, potatoes farming forms an integral part of the local agricultural sector and the economy.
According to reports, the potato industry employs nearly 45,000 permanent and seasonal employees with an overall economic contribution to the local economy of an estimated R8.5-billion annually.
It’s lekker to buy local
A local and much-loved potato product distributor McCain South Africa supports the employment of 6,800 full-time employees as it procures potatoes from over 100 local farmers.
The company strongly believes in supporting local producers as echoed in a statement by Unathi Mhlatyana, Managing Director for McCain Foods South Africa.
“The negative financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and other prevailing socio-economic and market conditions on local farmers and producers has been catastrophic. Further threats in terms of demand and cost may force local growers and processors out of business. Supporting the local agricultural sector is the most powerful and promising measure of combating the effects of agricultural dumping, which directly threatens our economy and livelihoods.”
Opting for low-cost imported frozen potato goods may result in a large number of job losses but South Africans can play their role and help keep this industry afloat. By purchasing locally produced potato products, consumers can reduce their carbon footprints, ensure the protection of the country’s natural ecosystem and supplement the local economy.