Thursday, April 25, 2024

Top farmer bullish on struggling ostrich industry

Despite the struggle that the ostrich farming faces in Botswana, one farmer said it has the potential to do well. This will in long run help diversify the agricultural sector and increase its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The observation was made by Jan Willemse, the managing director of Talana Farms, who said climatic conditions are ideal to having a successful industry.

“There is large potential for ostrich farming in Botswana looking at the number of wild ostriches in the country. Climate conditions are ideal (for such industry),” said Willemse, whose 1800 hectares farm made P25 million last year.

Research has shown that ostriches are found in the open, semi-arid savannahs of Africa and they do well if they live in a climate that can have temperature differences as much as 40┬░C between day and night time.

Overall, it is suggested that therefore ostriches can withstand a variety of temperatures, including the hot climate of Botswana.

Willemse’s comments come at a time when the industry is on the brink of collapse following the abrupt set up and closure of the ostrich abattoir in Gaborone.

The animal herd of wild ostriches in Botswana is estimated at around 75, 000 birds apart from the domesticated ones that are run by private farmers.

The number for ostriches held by farmers or domesticated ones is around 6000 birds.
The multi purpose abattoir that opened in 2002 and can slaughter 120 birds per day is currently struggling to re-open as ostrich farmers are reluctant to go back to the business.

Talana Farms currently has over 4000 birds and does business with the Ministry of Agriculture where government brings the eggs to hatch and send the birds to the Dibete Ostrich Multiplication Unit (DOMU).

Therefore, it means Talana Farms has more birds than any farm in the country. The Dibete came as an attempt to help the industry grow. Talana Farms hatches one egg at P150 for government and then the chicks are sold at P100 each to the farmers.

DOMU’s will struggle because its livelihood is also dependent on the success of the ostrich abattoir.

The tender for the running of the abattoir is out and if possible the facility could be back in business by January 2011.


Read this week's paper