South Africa and China have formed a partnership to build a 45-million-rand (ZAR) fish hatchery by 2011 at the Gariep Dam in the Free State province, in an effort to develop rural aquaculture and create employment opportunities.
The South Africa Agricultural Demonstration Centre in envisaged to be a fingerling supply station to rural aquaculture projects within the province and beyond, according to the web site, South Africa.
The hatchery will also be used to advance research and will provide a facility where agricultural scientists, technicians and farmers will test new farming methodologies.
Speaking at a sod turning ceremony at the Gariep Dam this week, Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, said hundreds of jobs would be created as construction got underway.
The sod-turning was attended by Premier Magashule, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Chinese Ambassador, Zhong Jinhua, China National Agriculture Development Corporation GM, Liu Lianjun, and other delegates from both countries.
Mr 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 ZAR45 million into the project and will give ZAR15 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," Mr Magashule said.
Potential for aquaculture development
South Africa reports that, 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 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 deputy director-general, Andile Hawes, the environmental potential for aquaculture in South Africa was 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," he told a Parliamentary committee in Cape Town last month. "Abalone farming in particular had shown extremely positive growth trends that exceeded global levels."