Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
AN Iranian investor has expressed interest in partnering local small holder farmers in a project to breed up to 2,000 ostriches in the country. Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, revealed this during a small holder livestock workshop in Bulawayo last week, where she challenged farmers to partner foreign investors in projects that have huge economic significance.
“Recently, I was in Iran where I met an investor who’s keen to venture into a partnership to breed ostriches here (Zimbabwe). “The investor has indicated that he is prepared to bring in about 2,000 ostriches into the country,” said Nyoni.
“Instead of just focusing on rearing livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep, I challenge you (small holder and communal farmers) to enter into such projects that have a huge economic impact.”
The Minister could not be drawn into disclosing more details about the investor. It is believed that Zimbabwe is losing about $9 million in potential ostrich exports due to the collapse of the industry over the last decade owing to economic challenges and disease outbreak.
Nyoni urged small-scale farmers in Matabeleland who are interested in partnering the Iranian investor in the ostrich breeding project to contact her ministry’s Bulawayo office.
“In line with the Zim-Asset, small holder farmers can venture into ostrich breeding and value-add given the fact that the birds’ products such as hide, meat and feathers are of value.
“In the past, Zimbabwean farmers used to produce about 30,000 ostriches per year but most of them stopped breeding due to the prevailing economic climate,” she said.
The production of ostriches on a commercial basis in Zimbabwe began in the mid 80s and since then it has become a popular alternative or an addition to traditional farming of crops and livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep on several farms.
At present, the country’s ostrich population has drastically dwindled with a few birds being kept in private wildlife parks.