Ostrich farming on the rise
With a taste for juicy steaks and roasted chicken legs, the meat demand in Pakistan has always been higher than supply.
Most of this is fulfilled by poultry meat (broiler), mutton and beef.
However, tapping into the demand for meat, some innovative entrepreneurs have introduced ostrich meat to the Pakistani palette.
The first ostrich farm was established for feathers in 1863 in Karoo in Eastern Cape region of South Africa.
The unique taste of ostrich meat makes it an ideal choice for stir-fry and steaks. Besides meat, other ostrich by-products that can be used include feathers, oil and leather.
Currently the number of ostrich farms in Pakistan is just a few dozen.
However, mass awareness is resulting in more farms being set up.
Recently, an ostrich breeding centre was opened in the Arid Agriculture University (AAU), in Rawalpindi, with the cooperation of the Pakistan Ostrich Company.
The company is a pioneer in the ostrich farming industry in Pakistan.
Farms of the future
Raja Tahir Latif, the CEO of the Pakistan Ostrich Company, said: “Ostrich farming is considered to be among the most profitable agricultural projects today in the world and often referred to as ‘farms of the future’ because of the high profit potential. The people are now exhausted by eating poultry products which have gone tasteless, so they want change in the taste.”
AAU will assist farmers in setting up ostrich farms by providing complete training, technical assistance, consultancy and medication to ensure a safe and risk free investment.
Critics thought it might be difficult for most to adapt to the taste of a meat that is so different from what they usually find in their curries and kababs.
However, Raja is positive people will definitely develop a taste for ostrich meat.
“It is an ideal permanent substitute for the lamb, beef, chicken and turkey with its low cholesterol constituents,” he said.
Mohammad Qasim, a farmer who has recently setup his own ostrich farm near Rawalpindi, said, “I started my farm house with 30 ostriches and now I have more than 50, it’s really a great experience for me,” he says.
However, when Gulf News talked with some butchers in Islamabad about the ostrich meat they were unaware that this substitute was available.
“Ostrich meat has a specific class and this meat will be demanded by those people who know well about the advantages of this meat.
“In Lahore there are a few stores where you can get this meat, but it is very expensive and we are trying to reduce its price to make it more accessible to people,” Raja said.
He added that in the next couple of months Pakistan will be in a position to produce ostrich in its own hatcheries.
Factbox on Ostrich meat
Ostrich meat is very delicious, free of cholesterol and fats. Its taste resembles with deer meat, with more protein and less calories and sodium than most other red meat.
In international market, Ostrich meat is sold for PKR 800 to PKR 1200. One egg costs between 1000- 2000 Pakistani Rupees. While Ostrich skin is sold to leather industries at price between PKR 10,000 to PKR 16000.
Ostrich Egg weighs between 1-3 Kg and it is equivalent to 24 Chicken eggs. Ostrich eggs are tastier than chicken eggs and free of smell. One Ostrich Egg can prepare 24 omelets. Shells of eggs are too hard to break and they are sold in market as showpieces.
The target class of the Ostrich meat is the patients of the high blood pressure, diabetes and heart because it is not acidic meat like other meats and cure to these diseases.
About 70 Kg meats can be obtained from an Ostrich age between 8-12 months.
Ostrich Oil is used in pharmaceutical Industry.