Two days before their general meeting which ended with the election of a new committee, members of the Botswana Ostrich Farmers Association (BOFA) observed moments of introspection in order that they could turn their association around.
In the process, members covered the topic of fear of what might happen to their association in the future. “I have fear that the market will saturate due to involvement of advanced countries in the industry. There are people from Europe who flew ostrich chicks to their countries. And those countries have advanced technology which they might use to excessively multiply these birds and by the time we try the market there it would be saturated,” said Godfrey Mokgwathi.
Fana Rabatoko fears the likelihood of farmers facing fierce legal battles due to a single ostrich market, which is the European Union. He said this market has the tendency of dictating how farmers should take care of their animals since they set up the standards. Therefore should they condemn anything, those farmers who had started the business by getting loans are bound to have their properties confiscated by financial institutions to recover loans.
Another member pointed out the fact that the issue of land allocation might prove disadvantageous to ostrich farmers. This is due to the law which dictates that there must be a distance of a kilometre between poultry farms, including ostrich farms. But it might happen that after a while, land authorities allocate someone between the farms, thus shortening the distance and perhaps breaking the EU market standards.
Yet another member expressed fear of interference by government departments like the Department of Wildlife National Parks which considers ostriches to be their property hence keeps imposing guidelines of how they should be managed. He said the department dictates that each and every bird that adds to the number already in the farm should be registered with them. It also dictates that any bird that dies should be taken to the DWNP veterinary office. Irrespective of how far the farmer’s farm can be, they are expected to bring the birds to the veterinary headquarters.
After examination of the carcass, the department expects that farmer to again collect the carcass and take it with him to the farm which takes a lot of time. He said there are disturbing regulations in the industry which would hamper its progress. The fact that farmers are not allowed to individually sell their products is a major problem.