Last year I predicted 2017 would be another difficult year for the industry and sadly the prediction has been borne out. Once again South Africa has been unable to export due to outbreaks of avian influenza (AI), causing further disruption to the markets. Unfortunately, this constant disruption has resulted in disappointed meat importers losing confidence in the ability to obtain regular supplies and many have left the market to concentrate on supplying other meats.
There is still exceptional interest in increasing production in Pakistan with some government backing available, but with South Africa unable to export and many other African countries also suffering from outbreaks of AI, it has not been possible to satisfy this demand for chicks. Unfortunately, most of the potential farmers in Pakistan appear to be more interested in developing export sales rather than their home markets and strong home markets are essential for providing continuity when the export markets get disrupted.
There is also considerable interest in Iran, but parts of that country also suffer from endemic AI which limits export opportunity and the current political unrest points to the population having limited the purchasing power needed to help develop the home markets.
Some of us in the WOA have been questioning the need for the WOA to continue in it’s present form. The ostrich industry has changed dramatically since the WOA was first formed. The meat industry has also changed with more sophisticated packaging and presentation demanded by the retailers. This has meant it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive for smaller producers to service anywhere other than their own local markets. The WOA is not a marketing organisation, which is what is required to move the industry forward; rather it was set up to provide standards for the fledgling industry and to disseminate information.
We need as an organisation to discuss our future role and suggest the upcoming AGM should be the time to begin that discussion.