The ostrich industry is developing at a lower rate in Botswana as compared to neighboring countries, the report ‘Revised National Policy on Agricultural Development’ indicates.
“The development of this industry is still very small compared to neighboring countries like South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, with South Africa being the largest ostrich producing country. The ostrich industry in Botswana has been constrained by a number of factors,” notes the report.
Among these are high out immigration of farmers from the industry over the years. High input costs coupled with complex farming systems have also hindered the development of the ostrich industry.
According to the report, available data shows that Botswana has a large population of wild ostriches, approximately 77 000 birds, indicating that the country’s climatic conditions are ideal for commercial ostrich production. The number of domesticated ostriches, however, remains relatively low at 4000 birds in 2011.
“This follows a decrease of 33 percent from 6000 birds in 2010. The mortality rate for domesticated birds is also high at 12 percent by 2011.”
The report nonetheless expresses the government’s commitment to revive the industry. As part of the commitment, the report indicates, the Dibete Ostrich Multiplication Unit (DOMN) was established in 2006, and by 2011 there were 1100 birds in that facility. The unit was established to provide research, training, practical demonstration and extension service. A multi species abattoir, which allows for slaughtering of ostriches, and has a capacity to slaughter 20 000 birds per annum has also been established. The abattoir is listed with European Union.
The enterprise is currently still being regulated by Ostrich Farming Management Plan Policy of 1994 under the custodian of Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. The policy was formulated to promote ostrich conservation through sustainable utilization. The report brought together various stakeholders ; Climate Change Coalition, Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organizations (BOCONGO) Environment and Agriculture Sector in a one day conference at Botswana College of Agriculture on Friday.