Botswana revives ostrich farming

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Botswana revives ostrich farming

first_imgAn ostrich farm in the Oudtshoorn district.Ostrich meat is an increasingly popular low-fat alternative to red meat. (Image: RodgerBosch, MediaClub South Africa. For morefree photos, visit the image library.) The six-colour South African flag madeentirely of ostrich feathers.(Image: Ostrich Business Chamber) Africa-shaped keyrings made from high-quality ostrich leather.(Image: Ostrich Business Chamber)Janine ErasmusSouth Africa is known internationally as the leader in ostrich farming. Now the country’s neighbour, Botswana, is to boost ostrich farming through the new Ostrich Out-grower programme. The scheme is driven by the Department of Animal Health and Production, which is responsible for improving sustainable livestock production and management practices.The world’s biggest bird has been a major source of income for South Africa – after gold, diamonds and wool, it was the country’s fourth largest export as early as the 19th century. The South African Ostrich Business Chamber says that the industry contributes R1.2-billion (US$98-million) to South Africa’s economy every year.Now Botswana is hoping to cash in, with the establishment of a scheme that will revive the neglected ostrich industry in that country. The out-grower scheme is to be implemented and managed by Talana Farms, a subsidiary of the Botswana Development Corporation.Feathers flew in 2006 when frustrated farmers in Botswana blamed the government for the failure of the ostrich industry. In response, the government established an ostrich multiplication unit at Dibete, located north-east of the capital Gaborone, later that year, to help with the supply of birds. That, and now the out-grower scheme are indications of the authorities’ willingness to improve the situation.The government is ploughing BWP13-million ($1.6-million) into the multiplication unit up to 2009 to help it reach sustainability. Botswana has the largest number of ostriches in Africa, most of them wild, and the industry holds huge economic potential but has laboured to fulfil expectations.An out-grower partnership generally involves an arrangement between landholders and a processing company for the production of certain products. The new programme involves the outsourcing of chick rearing to farmers on a contract basis, along with supervision and technical and veterinary support.Talana Farms identifies suitable farmers and provides them with all the training and resources necessary to raise chicks. The farmers build paddocks with the materials supplied and buy day-old chicks from the Dibete unit. Once the chicks weigh about 60kg, Talana buys them back, rears them to an established size and then sells them.There are five farmers in the scheme at the moment but Talana hopes that they will eventually have up to 50 participants.Once ostrich production is again rolling along, the government will designate a company to run the country’s sole ostrich abattoir, which is owned by the Ministry of Agriculture but is leased to the Botswana Ostrich Company. The facility closed down temporarily after the slump in the ostrich industry but re-opened in October 2007. For reasons such as limited infrastructure, unreliable feed supply and scarcity of chicks, farmers have struggled to meet the multi-species abattoir’s capacity. It is currently slaughtering cattle as well.Ostrich capital of the worldSouth Africa’s ostrich farming hub lies in Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo region of the Western Cape. The town is known as the ostrich capital of the world and is widely recognised as a source of top quality ostrich feathers, leather products and ostrich meat. Although there have been some significant slumps along the way, South Africa has managed to maintain the industry’s momentum.The industry was initially built on the feather trade but today leather is the main reason for the country’s dominance in the global ostrich market. Ostrich meat is also a popular export and is recognised as the healthiest red meat available, with lower cholesterol and saturated fat content, and fewer kilojoules. The meat is sought after in South Africa and abroad, in line with the general trend towards healthier eating.The South African ostrich feather duster is a profitable spin-off of ostrich farming. The item was invented in Johannesburg by a missionary and broom factory manager named Harry S. Beckner in 1903, although a patent had been filed in 1876. Beckner later took the technique to the US and started a feather duster company in Massachusetts. The Beckner Feather Duster Company, now the oldest US-based feather duster company, is still operational.According to the local Ostrich Business Chamber, more than 65% of the world’s domesticated ostriches are found in South Africa, and the country is also responsible for 90% of all ostrich-related products globally.The Ostrich Business Chamber has also embarked on a number of black empowerment initiatives to help emerging farmers in the ostrich industry. High start-up costs, inexperience, and risk of disease are factors that retard the growth of the industry, but the chamber has pledged to do its utmost to remove obstacles. The West Coast Ostrich Empowerment Project, the Klein Karoo Leather Goods Project, and the Southern Cape Ostrich Tanning in Mossel Bay are among the successful community-run projects already implemented.Unlike the uncertainty of the early days, today’s blood lines are strong and the various products are increasingly sought after. Ostriches have been classified as farming stock in South Africa and are no longer subject to the regulations of the various conservation bodies.World’s largest birdThe ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the only living species of the family Struthionidae and genus Struthio. However it shares the order Struthioniformes with other flightless birds such as the emu, rhea and kiwi. In South Africa the predominant species is S. c. australis, or the southern ostrich.The ostrich is flightless because of its selfishness, according to the ancient San legend. The story tells of Mantis, the Bushman demi-god, who became aware that Ostrich was keeping a secret to himself. Ostrich’s food always smelt delicious but he never shared his method, and this prompted Mantis to stealthily observe him. He noticed Ostrich taking fire from under his wing and using it to cook his food, then tucking it back under his wing after the meal.Mantis wanted the fire but he knew Ostrich would not give it to him, so he planned to trick the bird. Mantis called Ostrich to the site of a huge plum tree and encouraged him to eat the fruit, adding that the best ones were at the top. As Ostrich stretched further and further he eventually opened his wings to balance himself, giving Mantis the opportunity to snatch the fire. Ostrich was very ashamed and from that moment on has walked with his wings pressed close to his side, refusing to fly. Mantis subsequently gave the fire to the San.Ostrich countryThe Karoo’s hot, dry summers and mild, sunny winters are the ideal climate for ostrich breeding. The dryness also helps prevent the outbreak of disease.The first South African ostrich farm was established in 1864. However, ostriches, which are native to north, south and east Africa, had already lived in the area for hundreds of years. The indigenous San people used their meat and eggs, retaining the strong shell to use as water containers, and storing water in buried egg caches for emergencies.By the 19th century there was increasing demand for ostrich feathers from other parts of the British Empire, and canny farmers in the Oudtshoorn area seized the opportunity to begin an ostrich domestication process. The ostriches, placed in vast fenced-off areas, did not take long to begin breeding and by 1865 the annual feather harvest weighed in at a hefty 8 600kg.During these early days farmers faced challenges such as high mortality amongst chicks due to predators and disease, but the invention in 1869 of the ostrich incubator changed the face of ostrich farming. Arthur Douglass, the Scottish inventor of the device, was a resident of Albany, Eastern Cape, at the time, and his invention was one of two major developments in the industry. The other was the introduction of lucerne as a feeding crop around the same time.The birds thrived and in the decade from 1865 to 1875 their number rose from a paltry 80 to over 22 000. Breeding pairs sold for up to £1 000 ($1 500).Overcoming setbacksDuring the early part of the 20th century, the ostrich industry in other countries began to take off. South African farmers realised they may be facing stiff competition, but resolved to fight back by producing the best feathers in the world. Meanwhile, RW Thornton of the Grootfontein Agricultural College had conducted research into feathers from all parts of the world and identified the Evans-Lovemore strain of the Barbary ostrich as the source of the best, and cheapest, feathers.An expedition to find this Barbary ostrich, an almost-mythical creature with superior “double floss” feathers, red skin and a bald head, was launched. The members of the expedition were Thornton and two other colleagues. After many trials the team returned with 141 magnificent specimens, which were cross-bred with home-grown birds to form the new nucleus of the local ostrich farming industry.The new arrivals adjusted well to the Karoo, bringing with them a bumper crop of the finest quality feathers. Wealthy farmers, or feather barons, built lavish and opulent mansions known as feather palaces, constructed mostly from sandstone and influenced by contemporary art nouveau. The homestead on the farm Safari, known as Welgeluk, is a national monument.Oudtshoorn earned the nickname of Little Jerusalem, not only because of the large Jewish population but in reference to the many sandstone buildings found in the Israeli capital.In 1914 a huge surplus in feather stock and the outbreak of World War I caused a temporary plunge in the ostrich industry and farmers who one day had been millionaires were penniless the next. By the end of the war in 1918 there were still 314 000 domesticated ostriches in South Africa but by 1930 there were only 32 000, and by 1940 there were only 2 000 ostriches left in Oudtshoorn.Tourist attractionAfter World War II the industry began to recover and besides feathers and skins, it took a new direction – into tourism. The nearby Cango Caves brought many visitors to the region and they naturally took an interest in the flocks of odd-looking birds. Today, show farms such as Highgate in Oudtshoorn offer participation in routine activities such as feather clipping and ostrich feeding, provide information on every aspect of ostrich farming, and allow chick cuddling and ostrich rides.Visitors may also get the chance to literally walk on eggshells, except that these are the immensely strong ostrich eggs, which on average measure 15cm in length and 13cm in width and weigh 1.5kg. The eggs must be this strong in order to withstand the weight of the adult bird during incubation.Tourism, and a growing demand for leather, caused ostrich numbers to rise from the 1930 low of 32 000 to over 100 000 by the 1980s. Most of these were found in Oudtshoorn. Today the national ostrich population is stable at around that number.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Related storiesOstrich eggs hatch art fadSouth Africa’s tourist highlightsUseful linksOstrich Business ChamberDepartment of Trade and IndustryOudtshoornHighgate ostrich farmBotswana Development CorporationOstriches onlineThe Heart Foundation – ostrich recipelast_img read more

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South Africa mourns struggle stalwart Ruth Mompati

first_img14 May 2015Ruth Segomotsi Mompati, another much loved South African struggle veteran, has died.The 89-year-old politician died in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a long illness, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.The party said it would would miss Mompati’s “unwavering determination in serving the nation”.“The African National Congress sends its deepest condolences to Mama Ruth Mompati’s family and friends. We thank them for having lent us this icon of the struggle of liberation of the South African people,” said Kodwa.“The ANC and South Africa as a whole has lost a towering giant and a mother to countless generations of activists. May her soul rest in everlasting peace knowing that her role in building our country’s future will never be forgotten.“As a people we owe it to her and generations before that our vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society comes to pass.”President Jacob Zuma sent his condolences to Mompati’s family. “The whole nation is mourning, in particular those who worked with Mme Ruth from exile to Parliament and various structures of both the ANC and government,” he said. “We feel an immense void.”Mompati joined the struggle as a young woman and continued to serve her country until her last days.Mama Ruth, as she was known, worked as a typist for the late former president Nelson Mandela and ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo in their law practice between 1953 and 1961, during which time she joined the ANC and was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Women’s League.Mompati was involved in the Defiance Campaign and was a founding member of the Federation of SA Women. She was one of the leaders of the historic women’s march on the 9 August 1956, which is commemorated every year on Women’s Day.ExileIn 1962, Mompati went into exile where she underwent military training and held office as secretary and head of the women’s section of the ANC in Tanzania.From 1966 to 1973, Mompati remained a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee. During this time, she also formed part of the president’s office of the ANC, also later heading ANC’s Board of Religious Affairs.In the early 1980s, Mompati served as the chief representative of the ANC in the United Kingdom. She became part of the delegation that opened talks with the South African government at Groote Schuur in 1990.One of her many career highlights included addressing the United Nations Special Committee against apartheid in New York in 1992, where she addressed the subject of women’s rights. The day was then declared an International Day of Solidarity with Women in South Africa.After South Africa’s first democratic elections, Mompati served as a Member of Parliament in 1994. Between 1996 and 2000, she was the country’s ambassador to Switzerland.On her return she became the mayor of Vryburg in the North West province and later served as an executive member of Umkontho WeSizwe Veteran’s Association.“She leaves behind a proud legacy of steadfastness, resilience and selfness for her exceptional and outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle,” said Kodwa.The South African Local Government Association (Salga) said it would remember Mompati as part of the leadership that established local government.“The Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality [formerly Bophirima District Municipality] in the North West, where she was born and later served as mayor, is named after her. This is also where a statue symbolising her contribution was recently unveiled.“We pledge our solidarity and convey our heartfelt condolences to the Mompati family and loved ones. We lower our banner to honour her life which she dedicated in the service of our people, and pledge to pick up the spear and redouble our efforts in advancing the quest to deepen local democracy, development and provision of quality services to our people,” said Salga, which marks its 15th anniversary this year.Read more: Statue of Ruth Mompati pays tribute to the past‘Selflessness’Mosiuoa Lekota, leader of the Congress of the People, described Mompati as “a paragon of selflessness and virtue”, likening her to Mandela.“Ruth was a mother, wife, friend, teacher, activist, warrior, negotiator, MP, diplomat, scholar, mayor and a bastion of morality. She was the complete human being,” said Lekota.“A year after the death of the great Nelson Mandela she asked publicly what she, Ruth Mompati, had done, what we had done, to move the struggle forward to achieve a better life for our people. This says all we need to say about her.”Source: SAinfo reporter, SAnews.gov and News24last_img read more

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Providing Fresh Air in Our Home

first_imgOne of the features in our new house that I’m most excited about barely raises an eyebrow with some of our visitors: the ventilation system. I believe we have the highest-efficiency heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) on the market — or at least it’s right up there near the top.I’ll describe this Zehnder HRV and its impressive specifications and features — but not until next week. This week I’ll provide a little background on ventilation. Ventilation optionsVentilation can take many different forms. Very generally, systems can be categorized into about a half-dozen generic types:No ventilation. This is almost certainly the most common option in American homes. There is no mechanical system to remove stale indoor air (and moisture) or bring in fresh outside air. In the distant past, when buildings weren’t insulated, this strategy worked reasonably well — relying on the natural leakiness of the house.It’s worth noting, though, that even a leaky house doesn’t ensure good ventilation. For this strategy to work there has to be either a breeze outside or a significant difference in temperature between outdoor and indoors. Either of these conditions creates a pressure difference between indoors and out, driving that ventilation. On calm days in the spring and summer, there might be very little air exchange even in a really leaky house.Natural ventilation. In this rather uncommon strategy, specific design features are incorporated to bring in fresh air and get rid of stale air. One approach is to create a solar chimney in which air is heated by the sun, becomes more buoyant, and rises up and out through vents near the top of the building; this lowers the pressure in the house, which draws fresh air in through specially placed inlet ports. The rest of this blog will focus on mechanical ventilation.Exhaust-only mechanical ventilation. This is a relatively common strategy in which small exhaust fans, usually in bathrooms, operate either continuously or intermittently to exhaust stale air and moisture generated in those rooms. This strategy creates a modest negative pressure in the house, and that pulls in fresh air either through cracks and other air-leakage sites or through strategically placed intentional make-up air inlets. An advantage of this strategy is simplicity and low cost. A disadvantage is that the negative pressure can pull in radon and other soil gases that we don’t want in houses.Supply-only ventilation. As the name implies, a fan brings in fresh air, and stale air escapes through cracks and air-leakage sites in the house. The air supply may be delivered to one location, dispersed through ducts, or supplied to the ducted distribution system of a forced-air heating system for dispersal. A supply-only ventilation system pressurizes a house, which can be a good thing in keeping radon and other contaminants from entering the house, but it risks forcing moisture-laden air into wall and ceiling cavities where condensation and moisture problems can occur.Balanced ventilation. Much better ventilation is provided through a balanced system in which separate fans drive both inlet and exhaust airflow. This allows us to control where the fresh air comes from, where that fresh air is delivered, and from where exhaust air is drawn. Balanced ventilation systems can be either point-source or ducted. With ducted systems, it makes sense to deliver fresh air to spaces that are most lived in (living room, bedrooms, etc.) and exhaust indoor air from places where moisture or pollutants are generated (bathrooms, kitchen, hobby room).Balanced ventilation with heat recovery. If there are separate fans to introduce fresh air and exhaust indoor air, it makes a lot of sense to locate these fans together and include an air-to-air heat exchanger so that the outgoing house air will precondition the incoming outdoor air. This air-to-air heat exchanger — more commonly referred to today as a heat-recovery ventilator or HRV — is the way to go in colder climates. A slightly different version, known as an energy-recovery ventilator (ERV), is similar but transfers moisture as well as heat from one airstream to the other, keeping more of the desirable humidity in the house in the winter and reducing the amount of humidity introduced from outdoors in the summer. Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. RELATED ARTICLES Designing a Good Ventilation System GBA Encyclopedia: Ventilation ChoicesAre HRVs Cost-Effective?HRV or ERV?A New Way to Duct HRVsVentilation Rates and Human HealthHow Much Fresh Air Does Your Home Need? Joseph Lstiburek: Just Right and Airtightcenter_img Tight homes need mechanical ventilationI’ll focus more on HRVs in next week’s blog, especially our new high-efficiency Zehnder system. Following that I’ll address why commissioning an HRV is so important and how that’s done — or at least how it was done with our system.I’m a firm believer that all homes should have mechanical ventilation. With better-insulated, tighter homes, that ventilation is all the more important. But even in a very leaky house, one can’t count on bringing in much fresh air or calm days in the spring and fall when there isn’t a pressure differential across the building envelope.If budgets allow, going with balanced ventilation is strongly recommended, and if you’re doing that in a relatively cold climate, like ours, then providing heat recovery is a no-brainer. Mechanical ventilation always takes energy; with heat recovery the energy penalty of fresh air is minimized. Why ventilate?For centuries homes weren’t ventilated, and they did all right, didn’t they? Why do we need to go to all this effort (and often considerable expense) to ventilate houses today?There are several reasons that ventilation is more important today than it was long ago. Most importantly, houses 100 years ago were really leaky. Usually they didn’t have insulation in the walls, so fresh air could pretty easily enter through all the gaps, cracks, and holes in the building envelope.Also, the building materials used 100 years ago were mostly natural products that didn’t result in significant offgassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, flame retardants, and other chemicals that are so prevalent in today’s building materials, furnishings, and belongings.last_img read more

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Orissa: Maoists free kidnapped Malkagiri collector

first_imgJunior engineer Pabitra Majhi after his release The hostage crisis in Orissa ended on Thursday evening with the Maoists freeing Malkangiri collector R.V. Krishna, one of the mediators, Dandapani Mohanty, has said. Krishna, who had been abducted on February 16 along with junior engineer Pabitra Majhi, was released after nine days of captivity. Majhi, 22, was freed on Wednesday.Chitrakonda Tahsildar D. Gopalakrishna said Krishna was released by Maoists on Thursday evening and was on his way to his home in Malkangiri, which is about 90 km from the spot where the official was freed.The 30-year-old IIT graduate-turned IAS officer was released before a “people’s court” by his abductors in a forested area in Jantapai close to the area where he was abducted along with Majhi, eyewitnesses said.TV footage showed Krishna in a check shirt and a blue pant sitting on a boulder with folded hands appearing to be in good health listening as an unidentified man spoke about the problems faced by villagers. Malkangiri is about 650 km from the state capital. Krishna, who sported an occasional smile, was also seen eating out with his hand from a plate. Inspector in-charge of Chitrakonda Rajesh Chhatria said Krishna was released at Jantapai area.Meanwhile, social activist Swami Agnivesh, whose participation in the process was sought by the Maoists, said the collector had been handed over to the media before 6 PM. Meanwhile, Krishna’s father Rambabu said, “We have seen Krishna’s visuals.”Though Majhi was set free on Wednesday, the abductors had put forward new demands for the release of the 2005 batch IAS officer. They had demanded immediate release of five senior Maoist leaders apart from Ganti Prasadam, who has been granted bail by Orissa High Court.advertisementPrasadam was taken to Koraput on Thursday morning for his release on bail by the sub-divisional judicial magistrate there, but the process is likely to take more time.last_img read more

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