29 October 2009
South Africa and China have formed a partnership to build a R45-million fish hatchery at Gariep Dam in the Free State province by 2011, in a bid to develop rural aquaculture and create employment in the country.
The South Africa Agricultural Demonstration Centre will aim to function as a fingerling supply station for rural aquaculture projects within the Free State and beyond.
The hatchery will also be used to advance research, providing a facility for agricultural scientists, technicians and farmers to test new farming methodologies.
Speaking at a sod-turning ceremony at Gariep Dam this week, Free State Premier Ace Magashule said hundreds of jobs would be created as construction got under way.
The sod-turning was attended by Magashule, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Chinese Ambasador Zhong Jinhua, China National Agriculture Development Corporation GM Liu Lianjun, and other delegates from both countries.
Jianhua said the partnership was a result of his government wanting to assist developing countries and teach them about fisheries.
He added that the project was a sign of friendship between the two countries. The Chinese government has injected more than R45-million into the project, and will give R15-million each year for the next three years.
A total of 105 locals and 12 Chinese nationals will be employed at the beginning of the project.
“Through the construction of this hatchery, unemployed communities will gain employment and develop their skills by learning more about fishery,” Magashule said.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, aquaculture is defined as the culture of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and plants, either in cages within the shallow waters of the ocean or in dams or structures on land fed by water.
Aquaculture has been expanding rapidly across the world, and China is the largest contributor to global aquaculture production.
According to department’s deputy director-general, Andile Hawes, the environmental potential for aquaculture in South Africa is huge, and this could have positive effects on the unemployment statistics.
“If the industry production levels grew to the projected level of 90 000 tons per annum, then this could double the employment potential of the industry,” Hawes told a Parliamentary committee in Cape Town last month. “Abalone farming in particular has shown extremely positive growth trends that exceed global levels.”
SAinfo reporter and BuaNews
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