Ostrich industry gives diplomats a taste of ostrich

From left are Western Cape premier Alan Winde, Western Cape minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer, Rico Basson (executive director Vinpro), Mogale Sebopetsa (head Western Cape Department of Agriculture), Ashok Babu (consul-general of India) and Mathias Bogaert (consul-general of Belgium). Photos supplied

Dr Francois de Wet, ceo of Cape Karoo In­ter­national (CKI) and chairman of the South African Ostrich Business Chamber.

THE Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, and the South African Ostrich Business Chamber (SAOBC) on Monday hosted an event to introduce members of the diplomatic corps to the array of ostrich meat products produced in the Western Cape.

Meyer said introducing foreign diplomats to uniquely Western Cape products was critical to facilitating market access and promoting exports. “When I assumed office, I said my goals were to increase agricultural exports by 5% over the next five years and enhance the agri-processing value-add in the province. Today’s event is about working towards that goal. An increase in agricultural exports is good for our economy and jobs.

“The ostrich industry contributes greatly to the local economy of the Klein Karoo as well as the province. In value terms for the 2021 period, the output of all final products – meat, feathers and leather – exported amounted to R578,8 million.”

Speaking on behalf of the industry, the chief ex­e­cutive officer of Cape Karoo International (CKI) and chairman of the South African Ostrich Business Chamber (SAOBC), Dr Francois de Wet, said the southern point of Africa domesticated and started farming with ostriches in 1864. “To esta­blish an ostrich industry, you need enough ostrich farmers and be close to ostrich abattoirs, tan­neries and ostrich feather processing plants. One must grow ostriches, then process and market them successfully. You need to sell all the products successfully; otherwise, you will not have a sustainable ostrich industry. That is how the South African ostrich industry has survived. Today we have the most extensive ostrich operation in the world.”

According to Western Cape Department of Agriculture economist Vannessa Barend- Jones the ostrich industry is mainly export-driven.“Ostrich feather products are mainly exported to Hong Kong, China and the United Kingdom. The major ex­port markets for ostrich leather products are in France, followed by the USA and Mexico. Meat and edible offal products are exported to Hong Kong and China. Other edible ostrich meat pro­ducts are mainly exported to the Netherlands and Mauritius. The major markets for treated meat are the United Kingdom, Belgium and France.”

The Western Cape premier, Alan Winde, emphasised that the Western Cape is open for business. “Together with our representatives of the diplomatic corps, we need to get back to business. Our Covid 19 vaccination level is at the point where the risk has diminished. We can get back to work and focus on the economy.”