Good. You made it this far!
We have spent the last few years testing. We have tested A. We have tested B. And we have tested C through to Z. If you name it, we have probably tested it.
Over the last five years we have done semi intensive production systems and over the last three we have researched, designed, refined and piloted intensive tilapia production.
We have over the last 18 months run a 5 ton per annum pilot production system at our own, not inconsiderable, expense.
A pilot is the final stage in the business development process before you commit to spending real money, in this case on a full sized business only to then discover that it doesn’t work. There are many examples of failed aquaculture projects in South Africa and globally of investors who have ploughed millions into a spreadsheet model, and who have then promptly lost their millions!
A pilot is nothing new. Any new large scale project development will follow similar principles – it is a pity that aquaculture seems to THINK that large scale project development WILL ALWAYS work without putting in the effort and a small (relatively) amount of cash at risk to PROVE the case.
In our example we’re very pleased to report that our design and pilot came up hand in hand together. We exceeded performance in some significant areas – from a design of 90kg/m^3 of fish we peaked at 115kgm^3 briefly. Also our energy consumption was lower than anticipated which was nice.
Importantly however we hit and maintained all our water quality parameters within specification. We can prove growth curves and feed conversion ratios and from the 18 months from breaking ground to end of life for the pilot. We have gained insights into the business case for intensive production of fish, in this case, tilapia.
Why is this important to you?
Two reasons. Firstly it proves we know what we are doing. Which kinda makes a nice change in aquaculture terms.
Secondly. It’s revealed some very interesting learnings some of which we will share with you right now.
- A market for large (500g+) size fish does not yet exist in SA to an appreciable degree
- Cheap Chinese imported product has a market into which you will need to compete
- Semi intensive RAS production systems are the only way forward for now