‘There are opportunities for ostrich farmers in North West'
Farmer's Weekly|Farmers Weekly 8 November 2019
New ostrich farmer Kabelo Lekalakala says the industry in North West can be returned to its former glory through the participation of young aspiring farmers. Siyanda Sishuba reports.
Siyanda Sishuba

Kabelo Lekalakala runs the Pitso Ostrich Farm (pitso means ‘the calling’ in Setswana) in Mamogalieskraal outside Brits. A part-time farmer, he is also employed as a business adviser.

Lekalakala grew up in Bapong Village, in the Bojanala District Municipality in North West, an area he describes as being rich in mining, tourism and agriculture. He always wanted to be a farmer and was inspired by the farms he passed on his way to Sonop near Brits.

After matriculating, he successfully completed a BTech Business Administration in 2013.

In August 2017, he relocated to Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, where he joined his current employer (he prefers this to remain confidential), working with ostrich farming entrepreneurs. It was here that he was exposed to the ostrich value chain, from breeding and growing to slaughtering, leather tanning, and making feather and eggshell decorations.

As he developed a broad understanding of the business, he began researching ostrich farming.

“Through speaking to these entrepreneurs in the value chain, I became aware of the barriers to entry, including a lack of access to finance and to sustainable and growing markets. Appetite for transformation is also still lacking,” he says.

STARTING A BUSINESS

In January this year, Lekalakala took the plunge and launched his own farming operation in North West. While recognizing that this is no longer an ostrich farming region, he realized it had the potential to be revived after coming across the report, ‘A profile of the South African ostrich market value chain in 2017’, compiled by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (department of agriculture). The study stated that while 30 ostrich farms were registered in North West, none was operational.

“I investigated why this was the case, and discovered that as the main production areas are in the Southern Cape, a lack of technical support was a deterrent in North West,” he says.

In addition, high input costs and a lack of sufficient research into the treatment and management of diseases, such as Newcastle disease and avian influenza, also contribute to making ostrich farming an unattractive venture.

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