Challenges experienced by the aquaculture industry in relation to access to finance and competitiveness will soon be a thing of the past as the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) together with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) have finalised the Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme (ADEP).
According to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, the objective of the programme is to encourage and elicit investment attraction with the purpose of addressing the government priorities of job creation, broadening participation in the sector. Davies says the programme will also encourage rural development and food security whilst growing the sector through increased production.
'ADEP is an intervention towards mitigating the financial challenges identified in the aquaculture sector and a response to a need identified in the National Aquaculture Strategic Framework (NASF), developed by DAFF. The framework has discovered that limited access to finance and competition with other countries are two of the main challenges that threaten to inhibit the growth of the growth of the sector which is still at its infancy stage in South Africa' , says Davies.
He added that aquaculture was one of the value-adding sectors that embody a combination of relatively high employment and growth multipliers that are being prioritised by government through the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the New Growth Path.
"Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector in the world, growing at an annual rate of 8 to 10% per annum over the last two decades. The South African sector showed growth of only 3% in 2010. This slow pace can be attributed to lack of integrated plans and government involvement in driving development of the sector," he adds.
Minister Davies expressed confidence that the interventions that government has proposed through the NASF, including the ADEP, promotion of investment in production and support infrastructure, and the establishment of industry/farmer support and management programmes are expected to lead to substantially increased investment in the aquaculture sector. This will result in increased production, job creation, broadening of participation and diversification of the sector.
The Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme (ADEP) is planned to assist both new entrants in the sector and the existing aquaculture ventures. It is aimed at increasing investments in the sector, enhancing the sector's competitiveness, increasing employment opportunities.
The programme is also intended to achieving the geographical spread which takes into consideration rural areas such as the Aquaculture Development Zones and the Special Economic Zones mooted by DAFF, and the dti, respectively, and contributing to broad-based black economic empowerment.
The programme opens for applications on 15 December 2012 and guidelines on the qualifying criteria and how to access the programme will be available on the dti website.