Big Birds

22 Nov 2006

The Botswana Ministry of Agriculture announced this week that it plans to invest BWP 13 million to revitalize the country’s struggling ostrich industry. The three-year project, aimed to help farmers to source breeders, is already underway and has been stocked with 320 birds.

In the past, the Botswana industry concentrated on the export of live birds, but it has since been decided that such a practice is unsustainable. Hence the new approach of farming ostriches and exporting the meat.

The EU will be the prime market for Botswana’s ostrich meat and by-products, such as feathers for decoration and egg shells for artwork, will be marketed domestically to attract tourists. The commercial exploitation of ostriches began in southern Africa towards the end of the 19th century, when ostrich plumes were a major fashion item.

Botswana, home to the world’s largest wild ostrich population, has so far lagged behind South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe in developing the commercial potential of ostriches, but the country does boast a history of successful exports of beef products to the European Union (EU), largely thanks to its animal health practices. An EU-accredited abattoir with the capacity to slaughter 20,000 birds a year also exists in the country’s capital, Gabarone, and this should be another positive factor for the government’s new drive to boost the industry.

Source: Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

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