A meeting held in Pretoria in 1999 carried out a full strategic analysis of the industry the supplement to Newsletter No. 15 provided a full report. Industry immaturity was identified as the primary cause of the problems. As this study related to every stage of the process and delegates were from all aspects of the value chain, this can be viewed as a fair analysis. The problems and solutions identified during this meeting remain accurate today.
All present at the strategic analysis sessions, under the guidance of 2 academic professors, were first asked to identify the problems as they saw them. The idea was to list the problems and divide them into sectors and order of importance. That created the “Problem Tree” as in Figure 1. Then we discussed each problem asking the question “what action is required to overcome each of those problems?” That enabled the construction of the “Objective Tree” as in Figure 2.
Note there are 4 major sectors with their problems and actions required listed below.
Figure 1 - Ostrich Industry Problem Tree
Looking at the Problem Tree in Figure 1, it is clear why our industry was struggling. All looking at it can identify with most of the items listed and every one of those items relates to immaturity – maybe a better word is inexperience. Over the past 15 years many new countries have started up before any previous country has successfully transitioned to commercial production, therefore we have had ongoing inexperienced newcomers and loss of the experience gained by those let down by the lack of development.
Each one of those items has to be in place as laid out in figure 2 in order to have a sustainable market. The buyers are there, but they can only buy when the product is produced consistently, at the right price, consistent in quality and in the adequate volume.
Figure 2 – Ostrich Industry Objective Tree
The industry, for the most part, remains inexperienced. Why is this?
The history of the industry to date is a high turnover of involvement with many around for only 3 or 4 years before failing to make money and then leaving the industry. The result is a lack of continuity. Figure 3 is an illustration of the cycle experienced that started in the latter part of the 1990s.
Figure 3 - Current Cycle of Ostrich Industry
As the early producers and processors were finding their feet in the transition an important event took place that had a major role to play in the reasons why the production problems became severe. At this time a South African scientist achieved a PhD in ostrich nutrition and went to many countries lecturing. A video from one of these presentations was widely distributed. Many developing rations for ostrich used the work as the foundation of their rations. In 1999 he wrote: “± 80 % of the total ostrich industry is based on nutritional guidelines presented by my work”.
Figure 4 provides the comparison of the production problems and the objectives required to overcome those issues copied from Figures 1 and 2. Proof that South Africa has failed to introduce any of the improvements in their technologies and production systems lies in the fact that they are experiencing continued export restrictions for their meat as a result of health issues within their industry.
Figure 4 - Comparative Production Problems and Objectives
As identified, in order to deliver consistent delivery of a consistent product at commercial and profitable levels of production, it is essential to improve production efficiency and to achieve consistent good health of the livestock. Ostrich are proven to the have significant production potential, but to achieve that potential requires a totally new approach that has yet to be applied on a commercial scale.