The Botswana Ostrich Farmers’ Association (BOFA) will not be able to tap into the lucrative Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) despite ostrich farming being a viable agribusiness in the country.
In an interview with this publication, the Association’s Vice Chairman, Kabo Letlhare-Wastikc said this is because government, through the Ministry of Agriculture is still working on the industry’s strategic plan.
“After completing the strategy, a policy on it will be formulated. I do not know the whole process and the period this might take but I do not think it can be completed anytime soon. I just see us failing to tap into ESP,” said Letlhare-Wastikc. He added that even possible funders to the industry such as Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA), National Development Bank (NDB) needed policy guidelines to fund projects.
He also said they are having problems with acquiring land for the industry’s farming activities. However, he could not say whether his association had the strength to speak on behalf of its members in terms of land acquisition to undertake the activities. During the associations general meeting, a new member of the association, Donald Molapisi asked whether the association is able to speak on behalf of its members on issues such as land including advocating for the zoning of land specifically for Ostrich production. He said his question was informed by the fact that ostrich farming can become an alternative agribusiness to poultry farming.
Letlhare-Wastikc pointed out that currently there are some members who had changed the use of their plowing fields into animal-rearing farms. Some, he said, had applied for plots/farms and it seemed the process of applying and acquiring farms was done with ease. The application process requires recommendation from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks; submission of application forms; a convincing business plan which indicates that the location being applied for is far from chicken farms, at least 1 km away.
The Vice Chair explained that the association and the Ministry of Agriculture are still to come to an agreement on how the demarcated ostrich farm at Dibete can be distributed among farmers. He told members that as a committee they have the assignment to write a letter to the Ministry indicating how the association wishes to have ostrich farm ‘paddocks’ distributed.