The Botswana Ostrich Farmers’ Association (BOFA) has been putting in place measures to ensure that it becomes a vibrant association that is capable of tackling the many challenges that are bedeviling the ostrich farming industry.
The Association’s Chairperson, Valentine Dube revealed in an interview last Friday that as part of efforts to facilitate the rebirth of BOFA, the executive has been looking to position the association well for its current needs. He highlighted that the association previously operated without proper instruments and a clear agenda.
“In the past five months since we took office, we have been planning and coming up with ways to link the farmers with the Ministry of Agriculture, the market and suppliers. We want BOFA to be vibrant and responsive to stakeholders’ concerns,” said Dube.
He added that they are concerned that ostrich farmers are not producing though the country has the largest number of wild ostriches in the world.
“The ostrich farming industry can be used to eradicate poverty. Government has already laid the foundation for the industry; there is the Dibete multiplication project where the government is supplying products like eggs, chicks and breeders at subsidized prices,” he said.
He added that the new BOTA executive is tasked with ensuring that the public utilizes available government programs in the industry. Also, he said, there are lots of Batswana who have shown interest in the industry.
“More than 50 percent of our members are youth. We have a significant number of experienced farmers who have been there in the industry for years. They started the business, met difficulties and challenges and collapsed. Now they are making a comeback,” said Dube.
Like any other industry, ostrich farming has a lot of challenges. It is relatively new and people tend to start with little planning which leads to fast collapse.
“One cannot say I have done enough planning. We need to monitor and evaluate our progress. We must research more. I urge new farmers and aspirants to let BOFA be their first point of call. Information on ostrich farming is limited and we urge farmers to seek assistance from BOFA,” he said.
Dube added that there are lots of opportunities in the ostrich industry as it has more value addition. For example, from one bird a farmer can generate money from leather, feathers and the healthiest red meat. Ostrich leather is pricey because it can be used to manufacture expensive leather products. Furthermore, 10 per cent of revenues from the sale of an ostrich can come from feathers. Despite all these, challenges are brought about by the stringent European market. While this may be a deterrent to farmers, solutions can be found in the local market.
“We can start supplying our local market before supplying the EU. We can make biltong and supply tourist sites like Maun,” he said.
The association will on 29th and 30th June host a two day seminar at the University of Botswana.