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DTI to boost aquaculture industry

Aquaculture has been one of the world’s big food success stories over the past two decades, but one in which SA has played an insignificant role. If the department of trade & industry (DTI) has its way, this will change.

Key to the DTI’s plan to boost the industry is a cost-sharing scheme launched in December by trade & industry minister Rob Davis. Also on the agenda is the creation of aquaculture development zones and shielding the young industry from undue foreign competition.

The department has invited applications for grants, says DTI chief director Francisca Strauss. “Buildings and equipment qualify for cost-sharing grants of up to R40m,” she says. “Grants will be paid when the assets are in place and costs verified by the DTI.”

Subsidies, she says, are 40%-45% of costs on projects of under R5m, 30%-35% on projects of R5m-R30m and 20%-25% on projects of R30m-R200m.

SA has a long way to go to catch up in a global industry which the UN’s Food & Agricultural Organisation reports grew annual production from 21Mt in 1992 to 64Mt in 2011. Aquaculture is filling the gap between rising demand and annual caught fish production, which peaked at 94Mt in 1996 and has stabilised at about 90Mt.

In global terms SA’s aquaculture production is minute. In 2010 marine fish farm production was just over 2000t, of which abalone accounted for 50% and molluscs 48%, reports the department of agriculture, forestry & fisheries (DAFF). Freshwater fish production was about 1100t, of which trout accounted for over 80%.

Industry players welcome the DTI’s initiative but caution on aquaculture’s many pitfalls…..

Financial Mail: Read the full article

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