June 20 - An innovative fish farm project in South Africa is helping poor communities find new ways to make a living by growing fish for sale in shipping containers. The project is designed not only to provide jobs, but to assist families add high-value protein to their diet. Rob Muir reports.
Renowned for its warm summers and scenic beauty, Cape Town is also home to Khayelitsha, a deprived and cramped city of more than 700,000 people. Crime and unemployment rates are high and life is often difficult. The mobile fish-farm, housed in a shipping container, is one man's answer to Khayelitsha's many probems. Enrterpreneur Allan Fleming says it's a simple technology that can help local residents earn money while producing high quality food, through aquaculture. He says its ideally suited to communities like Khayelitsha. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALLAN FLEMING, FOUNDER FISH FARM PROJECT, SAYING: "Firstly, you can lock up your business at night and you can go home if it's close to your home, even better. It also preserves the heat inside the container if you are growing a warm water fish which we are, it's transportable, it's profitable and you can take it anywhere, so a lot of advantages to packing a container with a bunch of tanks, water and all the bits and pieces you need for a fish farm and getting it profitable." The fish farm utilises a circulating water filtration system. It can produce four tonnes of talapia annualy, yielding a profit of about 370 dollars a month. Fleming says his dream was to get small scale agriculture into the heart of cities where the majority of people live, and with the fish-farm he;'s achieving the goal. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALLAN FLEMING, FOUNDER FISH FARM PROJECT, SAYING: "With the knowledge that everyday five million people in South Africa get up in the morning with nothing to do, nowhere to go and no hope, so for me it was a time bomb waiting to explode and my effort towards solving that problem is to get people into the aquaculture business, they offered a small business opportunity not to develop a huge agriculture fish farm." Fleming's prototype was funded by donors, but he says he hopes to start producing moble fish farms on a commercial basis for other communities, not just in South Africa, but wherever jobs and quality food are needed.