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South African abalone farmer expanding to Middle East

Ambitious plan is to expand production volume by five times within five years.

Hermanus-based Abagold is planning to expand its operations with the first commercial abalone farm in the Middle East, Werner Piek, head of marketing at the firm, told IntraFish.

The South Africa company will set up shop in Oman in the next 12 months. It will cultivate the abalone specie Hliotis Mariae, locally known as Sufeila.

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"The project has been ongoing for the past five years focusing on research and development," Piek said.

It will kick off as a 100-metric ton farm but will be growing to 500 metric tons over the next five years.

The farm should become operational by 2020, Piek said.

According to the company's 2017 financial report, the investment in Oman was made in a joint venture with an Omani partner Muscat Overseas Company, in a newly formed Omani entity, Oman Aquaculture.

Once the expansion and the recovery from a distrasous red tide event in 2017 is completed, Abagold envisages a turnover of around ZAR 400 million (€25.7 million/$29.8 million) to ZAR 500 million (€32.1 million/$37.3 million).

Ranching project

In addition to the expansion to Oman, Abagold is also involved in an abalone ranching project with the ownership of 20 percent of Port Nolloth Sea Farms Ranching.

The company is an experienced ranching operator on the Northern Cape Coast with all the necessary government permits to ranch abalone at Kleinzee.

Abagold is supplying spat stock from its hatchery in Hermanus to the project. Up until the 2017 financial year, more than 1.8 million juveniles were placed into the ocean at Kleinzee.

"The target is to continue to place a further 50 000 juveniles per month over the next five years," Abagold wrote in the report. "The performance of the abalone already planted in the ranching project is encouraging and the high survival and growth rates indicate significant long-term potential for all parties involved."

First commercial harvests are scheduled for 2020.

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