Siblings Natasha and Kurt Diest of Impala Fisheries in Cape Town won a R150,000 prize with the Fisheries Award and the Overall Inspirational Young Producer Award.
Five young people from across South Africa were recognised for their contributions to various categories in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, agro-processing and producer sectors under the Agristars Award hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), which was established by deputy minister, General Bheki Cele.
‘We applaud DAFF for acknowledging youth involvement in the fishing industry as well encouraging youth development. We were shocked and surprised at winning the awards but also happy and honoured,’ said Natasha Diest.’ We are the third generation working in the fishing industry and are grateful that these opportunities are granted to us. Uncertainty is a great challenge in business and we are commend DAFF for recognising youth contributions to industry.’
Impala Fishing was established in May 1994 and is a fully-fledged black-empowered company. Since its inception, employment has grown from three to 40 staff. In a bid to create further job opportunities within a disadvantaged community, the company opened a retail outlet, which sells value-added fish products. The retail outlet sells fried fish and related products of high quality to the surrounding community, creating an additional five permanent jobs.
The Agristars awards are part of the department’s strategy on developing young producers and entrepreneurs. This strategy supports the establishment of youth owned and/or managed enterprises, youth entrepreneurs and also encourages active participation of youth in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. The fishery awards were sponsored by the Oceana Group, African Pioneer and the Water Research Commission.