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The farming of Mussels benefits both worlds
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The farming of Mussels benefits both worlds

B-BBEE and Job creation for a local community and a delicacy for seafood lovers

Imbaza Mussels, a rural development aquaculture farming company in Saldanha Bay, has exceeded its own expectations in the farming of mussels, thus creating jobs and contributing to the seafood economy in the region.

While globally marine aquaculture is growing at a fast pace and becoming a significant contributor to the economy of many countries, in South Africa it contributes only less than 1% to the GDP.

The company which is a co-operative, recently expanded its operations with the aid of the National Empowerment Fund’s R9,9 million (NEF) to enable the local fishermen in the area to venture into aquaculture.

Explaining the business model, Imbaza Mussels Managing Director Vos Pienaar, said
the company which is a farm, operates on a 30hectare sea water lease which involves cultivation and harvesting of black mussels using floating rafts in the Saldanha Bay waters.

“The farm has created jobs for 17 people from the community and another 60 people downstream at the processing factory.
“These are sole breadwinners for the respective families. Once there are distributable profits, the idea is to perhaps assist funding of skills development,” he said.

Pienaar said Imbaza Mussels planned to produce 739 tons of black mussels, per annum for the first 5 years and increasing to 792 tons in the 7th year.

“However, the company achieved 921 tons within the first five years of receiving the funds, exceeding its own forecasts. The business also took a positive upward trend in the first quarter of 2018.”

Imbaza Mussels has an off-take agreement to sell its harvested mussels to a processing company, Blue Ocean Mussels, (a merger between Blue Bay and La Vie Seafood products) located in Veldrift 30km away from Saldanha Bay.

The company’s mussels produce is sold at restaurants and seafood markets.in the retail sector.

Pienaar said the company which has cash reserves in the bank, used it to buy four rafts to upscale since there were still 4 hectares of un-utilised sea water.

“It takes approximately one year to build a raft, place seed and get up to harvest. The first harvest done from the new rafts will be realised during the second half of 2019. A raft will give about 40 tons per year.”

He added that the farming of mussels utilises raw materials in the form of ropes and seeds which take months before harvesting. The cost of sales remains low in rope mussel farming.

Imbaza Mussels’ funding came from the NEF’s Rural and Community Development Fund that provide funding to aspiring rural entrepreneurs and to facilitate skills transfer and operational involvement by community groups thereby promoting social and economic upliftment.

NEF Head of Marketing and Communication Moemise Motsepe said, next time when you settle down for your plate of mussels at a seafood restaurant during this festive season, you could be sampling a taste of empowerment.

“The NEF investment supports a transaction in the economically sustainable and globally competitive marine aquaculture sector, which has led to the creation of new jobs at a primary farming level, and at the processing plant.
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