South banks on ostriches
A new group of investors are looking at revitalising the now-defunct ostrich industry, focusing on the former ostrich abattoir at Coenbult and some farms in the area for fodder production.
The Governor of the Karas Regional Council, Hon Lucia Basson, speaking to the Economist, confirmed that investors are investigating the feasibility of ostrich farming.
Former CRO of the Karas Regional Council, Joseph Stephanus is said to be part of a team that will go to South Africa’s ostrich district, Oudtshoorn. Basson said that she will be in South Africa the second week of October by invitation of a certain Dhladhla Group,
The governor said that she is skeptical as ostrich farming in the Karas and Hardap regions has not been successful leading to major economic losses. “The investors convinced me that once I see for myself how it is done there I will see another side to it.”
The Namibia Development Corporation NDC has also availed a 1,400 hectare farm opposite the Brukkaros Abbatoir for Ostrich farming. This farm is in close proximity to the Keetmanshoop Lüderitz road.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Trade and Industry confirmed to the Economist this week that it is contemplating a possible N$19 million ostrich farming project near Keetmanshoop.
The proposed project under the ministry’s Socio-Economic Development Programme was intended to be implemented in the 2013/14 financial year but was postponed due to uncertainties surrounding its viability. The earlier history of ostrich farming played a significant role in the ministry’s reluctance to proceed with the project.
According to the current business plan, the source of income would be from a combination of meat and leather as agricultural commodities with the meat making up 45% of the value.
In 2004, Karas Abattoir and Tannery (KAPT) and the government signed an agreement in rejuvenating the industry with Agribank providing a loan of N$14,000,000.
The government would act as guarantor of the loan and the project was intended to target 50 communal farmers. As far as the Economist could establish, this project never got off the ground.
The revived ostrich project will be centered again on the same 1,428 ha farm Coenbult near Keetmanshoop next to the B4 national road en-route to the coastal town of Lüderitz. New financing of N$4.25 million has been secured for a meat processing plant and feedlot.
A further 70 hectare maize farm under irrigation is also envisaged. Expected yield from this source will be about 14 tonnes per hectare. Local production of staple fodder is a key component for the financial viability of the local ostrich project. An earlier feasibility study indicated that imported fodder will not make the project viable.