Molepolole politician and former ostrich farmer, Kabo Sebele, has denounced the recently announced granting of European Union permission to Botswana to export ostrich meat to the market as a development that is likely to benefit a single farmer who currently owns thousands of the birds in Talana Farms in Tuli Block.
“This is not worth celebrating as it will only benefit the Tuli Block farmer and no one else in the whole country as no one else is breeding ostriches on a commercial basis,” he lamented.
He said that most Batswana who, like him, had ventured into the industry in the past will not be tempted to go back because they are broke and owe banks money they had invested in the industry in the past – before the ostrich abattoir was closed.
“You cannot honestly expect these people who were burnt and are yet to pay loans they owe banks to go into this very expensive industry again,” said Sechele. “It will maybe be new people who will venture into it.”
On what he thinks should have happened, he said that he was of the view that they should have been bailed out as their business had collapsed not because they were failing to run them but because the abattoir had closed. He added that they should have been encouraged to go back into the industry as they have some skills to run such business already.
“I know some people will be saying that we are too demanding on the government, but that is the only way that can help this industry to grow,” said Sebele. “Besides, our government has over the years pumped a lot of money into the cattle industry, which has been in existence for years. Why can she not help farmers in a new and very complicated industry such as ostrich industry if she is eager to see it grow?” he queried.
Asked if he does not consider the establishment of Dibete Ostrich Multiplication Unit by the Government of Botswana as a good sign that the government would like to encourage the growth of ostrich industry in the country, Sebele said that the establishment of the Unit on its own was not enough and that what is needed is financial assistance .
The Unit, amongst other things, breeds and sells ostrich chicks to those in the industry. It also educates those wishing to go into the industry.