Umtata – On Monday, 30 May 2016, the Water Research Commission (WRC) in collaboration with Rhodes University offered a 1-day training session on the use of aquaculture guidelines to 105 students of Tsolo Agriculture and Rural Development Institute (TARDI) near Umtata in the Eastern Cape.
A discussion on establishing partnerships with South Africa’s colleges of agriculture started in 2015 at the WRC and has now taken off nicely with a fruitful training session to the Eastern Cape–based agriculture college.
Students were introduced to the WRC Manual for Rural Freshwater Aquaculture (Report No. TT 463-P-10) which addresses issues such as developing provincial aquaculture strategic plans, revitalizing state hatcheries, and training of extension officers. This research started in 2004 when the Rural Fisheries Programme of the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University, completed a project on behalf of the WRC to assess the contributions of rural aquaculture to livelihoods.
Prof Sylvester Mpandeli, Research Manager at the WRC says, “Aquaculture should not be seen purely as a way of producing food. There are many forms of aquaculture that produce a marketable commodity that is not eaten, but sold for cash, that can in turn be used to purchase food. A flourishing example of this is the ornamental fish trade, where fish are produced for sale to the international pet trade. Another often ignored form of aquaculture is the production of quality seed for sale to other fish farms in the form of fingerlings.”
Mpandeli further says,” Other than providing protein rich food to rural communities, aquaculture has a job creation potential that responds to the current high unemployment challenge the country faces.” students at TARDI were happy to receive practical experience through the guideline developed by the WRC and Rhodes University.
While addressing the students, Qurban Rouhani, the WRC project leader based at Rhodes University said, “Aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa has immense potential as a means of increasing food security, and the aim of this manual therefore is to provide information to prospective local fish farmers. In areas such as the Philippines and Indonesia, China, Vietnam and Israel, aquaculture now produces a substantial and ever-increasing proportion of the fish consumed by their respective populations, together with a percentage that is exported to other countries."
According to Mpandeli the WRC has a responsibility to address national priorities through the knowledge that is generated by the organization. The research agenda of the WRC should be able to address the science policy interface, address food security, human capital development etc. Some of these challenges will be addressed through research findings in the form of guidelines/manuals that have been developed for both the Agriculture and Water sectors. "This is going to be a long journey we’ve initiated with key our partners (Agricultural Colleges) on the implementation of the WRC guidelines" Mpandeli says.
Over the years, the WRC agriculture-related research portfolio has strategically focused on increasing efficiency and productivity of water use for production of food, forage, fibre, and fuel crops; improving food security; reducing poverty and increasing the wealth of people dependent on water-based agriculture; and ensuring sustainable water resource use .
Contact: Prof Sylvester Mpandeli, email: firstname.lastname@example.org