Many people are familiar with the mollusks dubbed “soybeans of the sea,” but not so much with how business is booming in Africa. Here are 12 things you didn’t know about oyster farming in Africa.
Source: Winetimes.com, Africanexecutive.com, Africanocean.co.za
The oyster business in Africa is worth is up to $100 billion annually and is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Oyster businesses have reported increasing profits by 8-to-10 percent for the past three decades. Oyster farms are mostly found in South Africa and Namibia.
One of Africa’s largest oyster farms, Knysna Oyster Farm closed its doors in 2008 but is considering a possible re-opening with better facilities. Despite the business doing well financially, the company went under after the owners lost their lease. Today, Zwembesi Farms (sister company of Knysna) is currently in the lead for the biggest oyster company in Africa.
Alternatively named the Pacific oyster, crassostrea gigas is native to Japan but has been introduced to African waters. The Pacific oysters are said to have the best-tasting meat and to be more nutrition than other oysters.
Source: Anchor Environmental
Environmentalists have criticized the increase in oyster farming in Africa as a hazard and pollutant due to rising contents of heavy metals excreted by oysters. The mollusks are known for having zinc, copper and sulfur content and many argue that this could poison marine wildlife and reefs.
Oysters are highly nutritious, packing protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, potassium and tons of vitamins such as B-12 and D. Oysters are one of the world’s best protein-packed meals with very low calories. It is believed that consumption of these mollusks helps boost the immune system and improves blood circulation.
Source: Organic Facts
It is believed that oysters grow faster in warmer water. In Western Africa (mostly in Namibia), oysters can survive at salinity between 10-to-35 percent. Normally they have a temperature tolerance between 28 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit; 25 years of data show that offshore water temperature in this region ranges from 56-to-82 degrees.
Source: The African Executive
Oysters are cold blooded and in warm waters, they can grow to the appropriate size that’s ready to harvest within six months.
Source: The African Executive
Offshore oysters have been shown to produce better quality shellfish than inshore. Offshore mollusks have better meat, faster growth rate and heavier production. It is thought that oysters are more stressed out when they live inshore, and stress stunts their growth.
In 2014, Namibia’s oyster business suffered a blow when Hong Kong halted the import of its oysters. Hong Kong claimed that after testing samples from the shellfish, the oysters from the Walvis Bay in Namibia showed a high percentage of cadmium (heavy metal), making them unfit and unsafe for consumption. This ban has not yet been lifted.
This annual festival has been ongoing for 28 years as a way to raise money for different local charities each year. Oysters are, of course, the main attraction at the festival and participants sample different flavored oysters as well as engage in or watch a competitive oyster-eating contest.
A South African oyster business in Wilderness, South Africa, Oysters R Us harvests the bivalves and is also open to tourists. Visitors can oversee the oyster farm and dine on fresh oysters. The farm also hosts several events that are open to the public. Oysters R Us claims to deal only in wild oysters sourced from commercial permit holders along the Garden Route coastline.
With worldwide declines in fish stocks, researchers are looking at South Africa’s increasing production of bivalves in Saldanha Bay. There is potential for oyster businesses to increase production and employ up to 2,500 people in the area. With a possible expansion in Southern and West Africa, it’s hopeful that oyster farming will provide income for thousands of impoverished locals.