DTI incentive helps abalone farmer meet demand

3 December 2014

Jobs have been created in the Western Cape coastal town of Hermanus in the specialised field of abalone farming, at Abagold Limited.

The company has been able to expand through an agriculture incentive administered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“Abagold Limited, a company that farms in abalone in Hermanus, Western Cape, is one of the few companies that have already accessed the DTI’s Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme [ADEP] incentive and has already created 120 new jobs,” said departmental spokesperson Sidwell Medupe.

Abagold’s managing director, Christo du Plessis, said the company, which applied for financial assistance with a vision to expand and at the same time create jobs for people in the Hermanus region, was realising its vision so far.

“We have already created 97 new permanent jobs in addition to the 265 that we had. There are also 29 new fixed-term jobs due to the construction phase, which is likely to continue for more than a year. We are happy to be growing as a company. Our growth is not only for us but for the community and the town at large.”

Du Plessis said the company acquired 25% black economic empowerment investors in 2010, which provided most of the capital for the Sulamanzi expansion project. The department partly funded this project through its ADEP incentive.

Growth strategy

Sulamanzi is Abagold’s biggest farm and will contribute to the company realising its growth strategy.

“The investment in the project is budgeted to a total sum of R112-million and we have already received R5.6-million as a first claim from the DTI. Our maximum production per annum used to be 275 tons of abalone, and with the new project, it will grow to more than 500 tons per annum.”

The company currently exported almost 100% of its abalone to markets in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan, Du Plessis added. The product is exported in live, canned and dried formats under its own registered brand.

Because of strict permit conditions in South Africa and the fact that abalone was not that well-known, the group did not have a large market locally.

Abagold was expanding its footprint, he said, through the manufacturing and selling of specialised aquatic feeds, increased abalone production and wave energy generation.

Skills training

Kwanele Tom, 20, who is employed on Abagold’s Sulamanzi farm, was happy with his new job, which helped him to support himself and his family of five.

“Since I joined the company I have learned how to work with abalone and would like to attend the aquaculture training course and other skills training courses. I want to grow with the company,” he said.

The objective of the ADEP is to stimulate investment in the aquaculture sector with the intention to increase production, sustain and create jobs, encourage geographical spread and broaden participation.

It offers a reimbursable cost-sharing grant of up to R40-million qualifying costs in machinery and equipment, bulk infrastructure, owned land and/or buildings leasehold improvements, competitiveness improvement activities, as well as commercial vehicles and work boats.

SANews