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South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched a R800-million incentive programme for marine and freshwater fishing projects aimed at growing the country’s fledgling aquaculture industry.

The Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme, launched by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in Cape Town on Thursday, aims to stimulate investment in a relatively untapped sector.

“South Africa is currently at the bottom of the development curve and still in its infancy stage when it comes to the aquaculture sector,” Daives said at Thursday’s launch.

“South Africa only contributes about 1% of Africa’s aquaculture production. This launch today can be used as an opportunity to grow the sector in the next few years to remain competitive globally.”

Sipho Ntombela, the acting director-general at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said aquaculture formed a key part of the government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the New Growth Path.

According to the DTI, The IPAP has identified aquaculture “as a potential growth sector that can supplement the supply of wild stock with cultured fish products.

“Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food production sectors in the world, growing at an annual rate of 8% to 10% per annum over the last two decades and outstripping livestock three- to four-fold,” the DTI said last week.

According to Business Day, the new incentive programme targets fish hatcheries, fish farms and the production, processing and preserving of aquaculture fish. It will function as a reimbursement grant for pre-approved projects once they have been up and running for a year.

“Further, it will offer a maximum of R40-million on a cost-sharing basis for investment in machinery and equipment, bulk infrastructure, land and buildings, leasehold improvements, and competitiveness improvement activities,” Business Day reports.

The DTI’s head of product development, Tumelo Marivate, told Engineering News that R800-million had been set aside for the grant, and that four investors had already shown an interest.

Davies said the programme promised enormous benefits that could contribute to job creation, food security, foreign currency and skills development.

“The East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) has over the years played a significant role in the aquaculture sector, and given enough resources and investments we can multiply the work in other parts of the country,” Davies added.



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