Introducing foreign diplomats to uniquely Western Cape products like ostrich meat, leather and feathers is critical to facilitate market access and promote exports. This, according to the Western Cape minister of agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer.
Meyer was speaking at a recent departmental event hosted alongside the South African Ostrich Business Chamber on Monday, 14 March 2022.
The event was held to show members of the diplomatic corps the wide variety of ostrich meat products made in the Western Cape.
Meyer pointed out that the event was in pursuit of his goal to increase agricultural exports by 5% over the next five years and enhance the agri-processing value-add in the province.
“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,” added Meyer.
Meanwhile Dr. Francois De Wet, chairperson of the South African Ostrich Business Chamber pointed out that people at the southern point of Africa domesticated and started farming with ostriches in 1864.
“To establish an ostrich industry, you must have enough ostrich farmers and be close enough to ostrich abattoirs, tanneries, and ostrich feather processing plants. One must first grow ostriches, then process them 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,” De Wet said.
He added that South Africa needed to export more feathers. Currently, Mzansi ships 40% of the value of the leather it exports to France and Italy’s fashion houses. De Wet also added that the country needed to export more meat to countries such as India.
Major export market opportunities
According to the premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, the province is open for business. Together with the representatives from the diplomatic corps, they need to get back to business.
“We have gotten to a stage where our Covid-19 vaccination level is at a point where the risk has diminished. So we can get back to work and focus on the economy,” Winde explained.
“It is about recovery now, getting back those jobs lost during the pandemic. We, therefore, need to support agricultural businesses such as our ostrich industry.”Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde
The ostrich industry is primarily export-driven. According to Vanessa Barend-Jones, an economist with the Western Cape department of agriculture, ostrich feather products are mainly exported to Hong Kong, China, and the United Kingdom.
“The major export markets for ostrich leather products are France, followed by the USA and Mexico.
“The other edible ostrich meat products are mainly exported to the Netherlands and Mauritius. The major export markets for treated meat products are the United Kingdom, Belgium and France,” Barend-Jones explained.
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