The National Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana signed for the official handing-over certificate of technical and cooperation phase of China – South Africa Aquaculture Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) on behalf of South African government on 23 June 2017, at Free State Gariep Dam. The handing over of the project to South African Government was championed by Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr Rong Yansong.
Based on the fact that both Premier Ace Magashule together with MEC Oupa Khoabane were out of the country, the Mayor of Kopanong Local Municipality Cllr Xolile Matwa opened the ceremony and welcomed the delegation from China, National government as well as senior management of the Free State department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The ATDC is located in Free State province, Xhariep District near Gariep Dam where the Orange River supplies water to the same centre with a total construction area of 10,386 square meters. This massive project is comprised of administrative building, laboratory, expert’s apartment, fish hatchery, visitor’s accommodation, kitchen, boiler room, feed processing plant machineries and other additional facilities such as huge parking area.
During the ceremony, Yansong outlined that in the past three years the functioning of the project was perfectly driven by a very intertwined and strong team of officials from both South Africa and Chinese governments. He continued that the same group of official have made significant and outstanding achievements on all the three main tasks of training and promotion, breeding and technology demonstration as well as research and development.
He pointed out that ATDC has tailor made a set of training programs which unfolded as follows: held 32 training and promotion sessions, training on 820 government officials including farmers and students; and integrating advanced technologies, development experiences and local aquaculture practices. He alluded that more than 1.5 million fishes of various species were cultured at the centre.
“As of today, we, on behalf of the China Embassy and Ministry of Commerce officially hand-over this massive project to South African government to continue and expand this project to other areas of the country for the benefit of improving the lives of the people. I would also like to thank and acknowledge the continued support bestowed by the Free State Provincial Government, specifically the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. To the researchers, technicians and farmers it is through your togetherness that this project grow and produce more in order to contribute to the economy of South Africa,” said Yansong.
In his closing speech, Minister Zokwana expressed his sincere appreciation to Chinese government for the selfless aid and support, and spoke highly of the quality and efficiency of the construction of the ATDC project. He committed that the South African government will continue to strengthen relations with Chinese government for the benefit of capacity building and development of aquaculture systems including hatchery for various freshwater fish species.
Zokwana explained that the said project has triggered interest in the aquaculture sector due to its potential of creating more opportunities for the new generation. He added that the project will be sustained so that it contributes to the skills development particularly in areas of fish rearing and related research activities.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day because when teaching a man to fish you feed him for the entire period of his life. I am humbled to be part of this historical project. Let me also take this opportunity to appreciate the efforts and hard work delivered by the team, as well Chinese Government for ensuring that this project become a success. This happen during a historical month where the young people of this country must stand up and applaud the government of the day for dishing opportunities such as this one hence it is important to always support government programs that are aimed at improving the living conditions of the people,” he said.
He concluded by sharing that it is a tremendous milestone that today South Africa is preparing to host the World Aquaculture Conference which will take place in Cape Town from 26 till 30 June 2017. He indicated that the said conference is expected to attract more than 3,000 delegates from more 100 countries.