EghtesadOnline: With the production of between 50,000 and 60,000 ostriches per year, from which 3-3.6 million kilograms of meat are obtained, Iran is ranked the second biggest producer of ostrich meat in the world after South Africa, the head of Ostrich Producers Association said.
“Meat is not the only product derived from this precious bird. Its feathers, leather, oil, egg and eggshells also bring in profits and create value added when processed,” Behrouz Rezaei also told Financial Tribune.
Ostrich farming on the industrial scale, he added, began in Iran around 14 years ago. But in the first few years and due to lack of sufficient expertise, most of these ventures failed and businesses stopped expanding.
2,000 Farms Create 10,000 Jobs
After 2007, things changed and producers adopted modern methods and technology and gained expertise on how to make the most of this lucrative venture.
Currently, over 2,000 ostrich farms are spread across the country, which have created close to 10,000 jobs. Isfahan is Iran’s ostrich production hub. Other main provinces active in the field are Tehran, Semnan, Khorasan Razavi and Markazi.
Rezaei noted that although the sector has expanded in the last decade and a half, production is limited.
“All the meat we produce is consumed in the domestic market and we still have no exports. On top of that, to be able to export ostrich meat, we need to abide by certain standards and acquire relevant certificates. We are not there yet, but have started moving in that direction and will soon be able to meet the international standards,” he said.
Plan to Export to EU
Iran has officially applied for permits to export ostrich meat as well as farmed trout to European Union member states. In fact, the country plans to start exporting to the EU as of 2019.
“Non-EU countries have to go through various procedures before they can receive permits for exporting livestock, poultry and fisheries products to the EU,” the deputy head of Iran Veterinary Organization for health and disease prevention said.
“Iran is currently at the stage of filling in a permission questionnaire that provides the European side with information on Iran’s poultry farming structures, hygiene regulations, laboratory and quarantine systems, disease control, residue management plans, etc. The information will be sent to our contact point after which an on-the-spot audit by an Inspection Mission will be dispatched from the European side to assess the situation here in Iran,” Ali Safar Makenali also told Financial Tribune.
The official added that IVO has reached an agreement with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to receive technical support to accelerate Iran’s accession to the list of approved non-EU countries for the export of trout and ostrich meat.
The measures taken, he said, are part of Iran’s National Poultry Improvement Plan, which is currently being carried out across the country.
Rezaei, who owns the largest ostrich farm in Iran, added that there is growing demand for ostrich meat in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union member countries and in Europe.
“This makes it all the more worthwhile for us to expand the industry, as Iran has ample capacity for this particular activity. We experience diverse climates in different parts of Iran and ostrich farming has proven to be resilient in all these climates. The production of this bird needs a lot of space and we have plenty of land to serve this purpose in our country,” he said.
“Iran is an arid country. We are struggling with water crisis, as we speak. Ostrich farming uses much less water than many other fields of animal husbandry. Notably, ostriches can reproduce 20 to 30 of their kind every year. No other livestock or poultry has this potential.”
World’s Largest Ostrich Farm
According to Rezaei, the private sector has a project worth around $150 million on hand to launch the world’s largest ostrich farm.
He said the outlines and details of the project have been presented to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare for evaluation.
“This national project, which aims to double the number of ostriches produced in the country, will be carried out over 170 hectares. It will cover all activities from the first stages of chick production to the final stages of making shoes, bags and apparel from ostrich leather and creating value added from feathers used in the auto industry, eggshells which are worked on and used as decorative objects, and intestines used as packaging for meat products,” he said.
“Once it is underway, the project will bring together university graduates in a range of different majors and industrialists. It will create around 900 direct and more than 4,000 indirect jobs. We plan to invest more than $7 million on a designing and modeling department to meet the ever-changing tastes of fashion enthusiasts. We are looking for the financial resources. Domestic and foreign investors are invited to study the project, which is estimated to have a 44-month payback period and promises substantial profit.”
Ostrich Leather Exports Fetch $7m p.a.
According to the official, ostrich leather exports from Iran amount to at least $7 million per year.
“We are weak in marketing,” Rezaei said.
People unfamiliar with the business have entered the sector. Ostrich leather, sometimes low quality ones, go out of the country through suitcase trade and this damages the business as well as the good name of Iranian merchants and producers. “The industry expects the government to lend support to this promising business and help producers offer their products in the international market.
One thing the government can do is to cover part of the costs of attending foreign exhibitions, which can significantly help trade. Most producers cannot afford to attend the numerous fairs held every year in other countries and this is why our efforts and products are unknown to the world.”
Rezaei concluded that the future of the industry is bright and if the government lends a helping hand, goals will be fulfilled much sooner.