More than 100 countries have commenced ostrich farming just within three years and they consider it to be worth its weight in gold by saying that it is a cow that lays eggs.
Pakistan has the most favorable environment for ostrich farming. Some are convinced that the ostrich is a potential solution for food security, its physical structure is different from poultry and cattle, and it gains relatively more weight through feeding with low food consumption.
He added that the government should declare an ostrich estate like it has declared in the case of poultry estates in the city and land should be given in this regard, to resolve many issues.
It was noted that though Zarai Tarqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), after testing, approved the technology but the bank was unwilling to declare it a liable loan worthy item despite the fact that last year the livestock federal secretary provided a certificate of ostriches being considered livestock.
Similarly, Sindh government took an initiative to establish a model ostrich farm at every district level, but this project went unheard. Legally this should be declared as livestock, and all duties and tariffs on ostrich are of exotic animals, so the government should make it a duty free for three years at least to promote this industry, he said.
Moreover, the imported chicks should not be stopped at the airports, and cited an incident where 40 imported chicks expired due to complications at customs, he said, adding that another important issue is the poor security situation in the outskirts of the city where most of the farms are established for foreign investment and he demanded better protection for investors by the Sindh Board of Investment (SBOI) and assured safety from land grabbers must also be ensured.
While speaking about the ostrich farming business he said he had started efforts in this regard in 2002 in an individual capacity and started operating commercially about four years ago. Now, he asserted, his company is the third largest in Pakistan, despite the fact that he had initially collaborated with a company that led to the incurring of heavy financial loss.
Now it’s a successful business and the parameters of success of this business include that livestock must be alive and people should invest in this business, he said. He ticked off the advantages that Pakistan holds and pointed out it has the most favorable climate for the breeding of ostriches; the feed cost is very low; labor cost is very low as almost every household in the country owns livestock, he added.
Last year, he pointed out that he did not have sufficient chicks due to increasing demand in the world. But this year we ensured its availability as we have imported some 3,000 chicks, while our target is to increase the number of chicks in the country up to 10,000 to establish this industry in the country as its demand will last for 10 years, he stated.
He stressed that Europe had increased 15 euros on a single chick this year, so people were discouraged from importing meat but to instead invest in breeding, he informed, adding that its meat is available at Rs 1,000 per kg, and an adult ostrich yields around 50 kilogrammes of meat.
It was acknowledged that ostrich meat prices is very expensive but informed that there is an effort underway to bring rates down to Rs 300 per kilogram within three years and Pakistan’s potential in this regard is high as compared to other countries so export is to be started, he said.
China is the biggest market for breeding of this bird, as according to the roughly estimates China had some 400 ostrich breeding farms in 2004 and China is considered to be the number one breeder in this regard but they did not open it yet, he said.
Elaborating on breeds, he asserted that the African Black is the most suitable ostrich breed being imported from Australia and South Africa, which is considered to be the most successful breeding of ostrich as it has low mortality rates, best adaptability ratio, quality meat and feathers, and Pakistan has some 50 to 60 ostrich farms currently, he said.
On future plans, he indicated that 100 farms are planned and the target is to be achieved in 2011-12, he informed, adding that one farm contains 50 birds and the cost of setting up farm is up to Rs 1.0 million and the feed cost is also of the same amount for two years.
The total export value of this industry is Rs 100 million with one bird having an export value of Rs 200,000, he stated.
He informed that last year ostrich meat was sent to renowned chefs and they gave very positive reviews of the product. When the industry was in its initial stages, due to supply constraints, the promotion of the product was limited despite the fact that ostrich meat is very healthy as it has very low cholesterol and fat, he added.
He also indicated that the representatives of the sector had applied to Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Centre (PCSIR) and they will start its marketing in collaboration for the enhanced potential of leather, he said, adding that the research cost is being borne solely by the businesses and after completion of the research, the project will be launched on commercial phases in the next stage, and for this purpose we are establishing a farm in Karachi in a few months.
He also informed that industry in Sialkot and Gujranwala leather products are being made of Ostrich’s leather for export processing. This year we initiated a joint venture with a UK based company Innovative Livestock and Planning for foreign investment in this sector and that production would be reserved for export, he informed.
We have also started Shirkat Farms for the future growth of agriculture and livestock, this is a cooperative farming for six months and every unit comprises of 12 birds. So far we have received booking orders for 150 birds, and more people are coming for this and 500 more birds are expected, he added.
After Karachi, he asserted that farming would begin in Lahore, Islamabad and other cities in the country. The second model of Shirkat Farming is only for foreign investment as Pakistanis based in UK, Nigeria, Australia, would be given a chance for long term investment in August this year, he explained. He reiterated that the industry is a fast growing sector and it is to replace traditional live stock business in the country with strong and long term potential in the country.