Free State chicken project empowers community

5 March 2014

Grain Field Chickens, with the help of R130-million in state backing, has boosted its production from 9 000 to 130 000 chickens a day since 2012, while creating over 1 000 new jobs for people in around Reitz in South Africa’s Free State province.

During a visit to the Grain Field Chickens abattoir last week, President Jacob Zuma said this was “great news for many families in the area. Another good story … is that workers here at Grain Field own 23% in the business.”

He added that the people behind the project had been innovative and had not sat back and waited for the government, which had stepped in “only at a later stage” with funding and technical assistance.

“This is the story of how you were able to take a difficult situation, like the economic recession, and turn it around into an economic and social success,” he said. “The Grain Field Chicken project proves that South Africa is a much better place to live in now. There are more opportunities that did not exist before, especially for black people.”

Grain Field MD Sas Kasselman said the company’s employees were also beneficiaries of a 23.1 percent stake in the abattoir. “This makes the project’s success a personal success for the beneficiaries as well. It creates a social responsibility amongst employees.

“Job growth and skills development sharing is extremely crucial to the growth of any project of this magnitude,” Kasselman said. “We ensure that employees on various levels are trained, and they in turn share their training and transfer skills to their fellow workers. It is a continuous learning environment at the abattoir.”

Employee training

An employee who has benefited from this training is Adolphina Mojatau. The 40-year-old mother of two, formerly of Bloemfontein, is now a quality supervisor at the abattoir after a year-and-a-half of skills training.

“I am very proud of what I have achieved and I am grateful to be able to work on a project that ensures the best quality for our consumers,” she said.

Mojatau said a typical day at the abattoir meant slaughtering almost 50 000 chickens during the day shift and another 50 000 on the night shift.

“My team makes sure that every chicken that enters our receiving bay undergoes an anti-mortem. This is where we check that the chickens have no diseases, and they are healthy for consumer consumption,” she said. “It is a tough job, but we have to ensure that South Africans get the best quality product on the shelves.”

Mojatau has completed various training programmes in health and safety, food safety management, hazard training, meat inspection and examination and internal auditing and administration. She is also an internal training officer, and shares her story of growth with new employees at the abattoir.

“In such a short time, I have been promoted three times. This is not a company that one enters as a general worker and stays put for years at that level. The opportunity for growth is endless. That is what motivates me, and allows me to inspire others working here,” she said.

According to Mojatau, many South Africans, especially those in the rural areas, do not know much about the poultry industry and the opportunities it offers.

“Government is providing so many opportunities, but people cannot sit back and wait for a job to fall into their laps, they must be active and open to new challenges,” Mojatau said.

Grain Field Chickens supplies local and neighbouring markets and national stores across South Africa.

Job-creation funding was provided by South Africa’s Department of Labour through the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Industrial Development Corporation.

Source: SAnews.gov.za