8F Asset Management has signed an MOU with LNDC Lesotho National Development Corporation for the development of a 20,000 tonne Pure Salmon farm located in the Butha-Buthe Highland region of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Kingdom of Lesotho
Pure Salmon’s parent company 8F Asset Management is behind the new USD 250 million project. Which itself is behind the global roll out of RAS salmon farm sites around the world.
“We announced the project on the 3rd of July 2019. The MOU was signed LNDC CEO, Mr Mohato Seleke, in the presence of Lesotho government ministers the Hon Moeketsi Majoro, Minister of Finance; Hon Habofanoe Lehana, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Hon Samonyane Ntsekele, Minister of Water. We start construction in the first quarter of 2020 – in a site which is a few hundred meters from the dam. It’s 100 per cent hydro-powered,“ said Stephane Farouze, Chairman and Founder of 8F to SalmonBusiness.
The site will be next to the Katse Dam, which is Africa’s largest double curvature dam (as well the continent’s second-biggest).
“The new site will be fully integrated with on-site hatcheries, grow-out systems and processing and smoking facilities,” he said.
8% of Lesotho’s GDP
LNDC and 8F have already committed a big chunk of total investment in the project – 40 per-cent. “When fully operational, the annual revenue generated will equate to 8% of Lesotho’s GDP,” said Farouze.
The Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) is the main parastatal of the Government of Lesotho charged with the implementation of the country’s industrial development policies.
“We are in the country for many different reasons – one being Lesotho energy is 100 per cent clean – and not expensive. And the quality of water is exceptional in Lesotho. For the country to be developed and to be part of that story, we are very pleased to be part of the construction,” added Farouze.
LNDC CEO Mr Mohato Seleke told SalmonBusiness: “The main question – why Pure Salmon? To put it into perspective, LNCD is a government institution that is 100 per cent owned by the government-mandated by an act of parliament – to facilitate and promote investment – so with the main objective to create jobs – also to grow the GDP of the country. In our quest – we have come up with a new strategy which we have come up with in 2008. In 2018, we identified a number of key industries which we need to focus on – like dairy, agriculture as well as salmon aquaculture.”
Geographically surrounded by South Africa, Lesotho is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000m, which makes for sense for a number of reasons explained the LNDC CEO.
“Lesotho is well positioned as a water region,” said Seleke. “We provide clean water to South Africa – we’ve built huge dams – and through them we are able to sell water to SA. And because of the high altitude we have – 2,500m above sea level – we present an opportunity for a clean environment – both in terms of power – hydropower and solar projects. That is why we decided to engage and learn more about RAS technology.”
Seleke added that the LNCD is intending to bring even more participation from institutional and individuals as well as finance institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank Group.
8F is also setting up The 8F & Pure Salmon Foundation that will sponsor an aquaculture education programme at the National University of Lesotho, with 15 international internships available at Pure Salmon’s facilities across the world. One million free salmon meals per year will also be provided to local schools and orphanages during the first 10 years of the facility’s operation.
Furthermore, it plans on sponsoring students in aquaculture who will have an opportunity to go to the Global Fish R&D facility Poland – of which it owns 50 per cent with RAS tech providers AquaMaof. The students, in turn, will help to create a new aquaculture hub out of Lesotho.
As part of its impact investing ethos, Pure Salmon said it will also provide shares through direct ownership of the site to the communities which offer their unused land for the salmon farm.
“The fish will be branded as Pure Salmon Made in Lesotho product. We’re looking at South African market – Nigeria as well as Asian markets.” He explained that the country already is already enjoying a success story as it exports 1,000 tonnes of premium trout to Japan and neighbouring South Africa.
“People today are looking at quality fish – and our water is one of the best in the world – the fish will be considered a high-end product – not low end, “ he said.
Farouze did not want to go into production costs per kilo but said: “It will be much more competitive than production from Norway.”
Will there be expect another big project announced?
“Maybe one site in North Africa but there are no plans for more for now,” said Farouze. “Our vision is important. It’s the repetition of the same facility all over the world. The 20,000 tonnes plants in China, the US and in Lesotho will be identical.”
The announcement follows the company’s ambitious launches with a fully operational facility in Poland (producing adult-size fish of 5-6kg) and projects underway in Japan, China, Bahrain, America and Europe, that will contribute to Pure Salmon’s aim to produce 260,000 tonnes of salmon per annum.