The Chairperson of the Botswana Ostrich Farmers Association (BOFA), Thabo Mokwena has taken a giant step forward in exemplarily leading his association.
Through partnership with one of the BOFA members, he bought ten male ostrich birds from the government’s farm in Dibete, and had them slaughtered at Gaborone multipurpose abattoir. The decision the duo has taken is generally risky given that it did not conduct detailed market survey prior to action, though it spent P29, 000 just to purchase the birds; excluding processing charges.
“We were motivated to take this action by the fact that many Batswana had called me enquiring where they could get ostrich meat in the country, just to taste it. We therefore decided to slaughter and process the meat into biltong, pounded meat, grilled meat, stakes and kebabs. We have taken 83.6kg of the meat to local company with expertise in biltong-making. We want more of the chunks to be turned into biltong. For BOFA members we want to show them importance of value chain in the industry,” explained Mokwena, adding that they have placed some meat at butchery in Molapo crossing mall so that those who wanted to taste or familiarize themselves with the products may get access.
He said at this stage he has taken another advancing step towards doing clean business by taking some samples to National Food Technology Research Center (NFTRC) so as to ensure there is clearly defined nutritional value. He has also approached the Botswana Bureau of Standards for standardization. While the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) has given thumbs-up to the meat after slaughter, he is determined to ensure the meat keeps consumable status approved by public health. He therefore is further liaising with food laboratories.
On the progress of the association, Mokwena said it is growing, except that it seems members still fear taking risks. The association he said, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security ensures there is capacity building as they ensure regular training of members.
Mokwena emphasized the fact that there are lots of opportunities in the ostrich industry. It has more value addition than any other. From one bird farmer reaps sales of leather, feathers and the healthiest red meat. Ostrich leather is pricy because it can be used for manufacturing expensive leather products. Furthermore, 10 per cent of revenues from an ostrich sale can come from feathers. There is ready market for that.
A market may come from the Tourism industry. There are lots of tourists who come into the country and a supply to hotels and other tourist areas can rescue the situation.
“We can start supplying our local market before supplying the EU. We can make biltongs and supply tourist sites like Maun,” he said, adding that the industry has the potential to tap into Economic Diversification Drive as the government is busy preparing documentation to support it.