As is often our bent here ar Happy Koi let's start with a few hard home truths. The kind of truths you won't find on other sites trying to sell you some overpriced over inflated false expectation of an early retirement in aquaculture!
The bad news
1. Aqua Culture is farming. Farming is never easy.
2. Farming is risky.
3. Aqua Culture is 24/7.
4. The margins for profitability lie in the scale of your operation. Running costs are CRITICAL to your profitability.
5. Models that run at stocking densities of higher than 20kg/1000 litres of water are not for beginners. Only once you have mastered what it is to farm at 20kg/kl THEN you can look at upgrading! Running at 40kg/ton from the beginning is inviting disaster in our opinion.
6. Cash flow is only likely to start flowing in full force after year 1.
7. The cash you need to put the operation again is half to two thirds of what you need to run for the first two or so years until you attain the skills and expertise to get your farm running at levels that make it profitable.
8. There are few successful Aqua Culture operations in South Africa outside of the abalone industry. This should tell you something. Tread with caution when presented glamourous models and elaborate spread sheets. A spread sheet never produces fish. You do.
9. Government red tape is in a shambles and getting worse. They have little or no clue, and despite what anyone tells you they are a hinderance and a drag on your potential operation. Ignore and exclude them as much as you can within the maximum extent of the law.
10. Anyone can put together a financial model that will make you salivate at the prospects. Heck, you can Google your own in about 5 minutes if you like. Ask to see their actual physical working model and watch the excuses start to flow. Our advice? Run a mile!
The good news
1. It CAN be done.
2. It can be successful if you understand the entire business.
3. It need not cost a fortune to engage on the learning curve you need to undergo.
4. Profitability is becoming easier all the time as the price of fish rises ahead of normal inflationary pressures.
5. Aqua Culture will become an established industry with the early adopters the early winners. It is already a growing segment in agriculture that stands in stark contrast to broader agriculture that is tragically shrinking as a whole in SA.
What we do
1. We have considerable experience in growing fish and in keeping them alive at as little cost as possible.
2. We have extremely energy efficient systems that make our model for aquaculture more profitable as a result of paying less to Eskom - see point 4 under Bad News. Our systems are possibly the lowest energy costs available.
3. Our systems work on recirculated water systems that are self contained.
4. Our systems actually exist and run. You can come and see them anytime by appointment (this is because the same facility houses our Koi quarantine facility and hence we have strict bio security protocols that we have to adhere to).
5. We have a strong emphasis on the minimisation of the risk of contamination between our systems as a result of necessity from importing Koi from many different breeders in Japan. This is one of the biggest risks in aquaculture, the virulent spread of disease in a large system can destroy an entire business in days.
6. Our systems are scalable. You can double pond capacity and increase stocking densities via a few very simple system upgrades.
7. Our systems are low maintenance. Like all excellent aquaculture systems they are best served with routine and simple daily attendance that takes a few seconds (literally). This we believe is an inherent advantage since it forces you to examine your fish at least daily. A complete filter clean can also be performed daily if required in a matter of minutes.
8. Our model allows you to learn and to grow as you gain understanding of your market and your fish. Equally you can purchase a complete functioning fish farm and jump in with both feet at considerably lower cost than equivalent systems.