Case of in­vestor ig­no­rance

Fish Farmer - - World Aquacultur­e 2017 -­farmer-mag­a­

IN the early 1990s An­dre Bok left univer­sity as an aqua­cul­ture grad­u­ate and ran a tour­ing com­pany in Malawi, which was good ex­pe­ri­ence in see­ing how in­vest­ment po­ten­tial can be un­der­mined by ‘de­cep­tion lurk­ing around the cor­ner’. In 2008 he led a pi­lot scale land based dusky kob farm in East Lon­don. At the time there was great ex­cite­ment in the emerg­ing in­dus­try and in­vestors ini­tially were will­ing to lend en­ter­prises like his money.

The fact that ev­ery sin­gle farm set up in this pe­riod failed can­not be

of in­for­ma­tion and the ven­tures pro­duced on av­er­age just 25 per cent of what had been pre­dicted.

His own op­er­a­tion, Pure Ocean East Lon­don (part of Pure Ocean Aqua­cul­ture), was no ex­cep­tion. It has en­dured many chal­lenges, some tragic, such as when the CEO was shot and killed by his for­mer busi­ness part­ner who then com­mit­ted sui­cide.The com­pany that bought them out was sub­se­quently im­pli­cated in a Ponzi scheme.

Bok, a ma­rine bi­oloigst, said in­vestors gen­er­ally had been eas­ily fooled who have learnt from past mis­takes and proven their busi­ness cre­den

He ad­vised farm­ing entreprene­urs that due dili­gence must be ‘very strong on the tech­ni­cal front – they must un­der­stand the farm’s true pro­duc­tion po­ten­tial’. He ad­mit­ted that when he started out he ‘knew enough to know I didn’t know enough!’

Ide­ally, one or two tech­ni­cal con­sul­tancy teams should be hired by in­vestors and only when the tech­ni­cal risks are un­der­stood should pro­duc­tiv­ity mile­stones be agreed.

Farm pro­duc­tion mile­stones such as feed con­ver­sion ra­tios and stock­ing den­si­ties are, said Bok, ‘the beat­ing heart of a farm’.

Prior to in­vest­ment a farm’s tech­ni­cal plan should be au­dited, in­clud­ing the farm pro­duc­tion in­di­ca­tors.

And hav­ing in­vested, the farm should re­port on its pro­duc­tion in­di­ca­tors and con­tinue to be in­de­pen­dently au­dited.

‘Over the last 10 years we’ve learnt a huge amount and now this is the strong­est po­si­tion ever to in­vest in the in­dus­try,’ said Bok.

As for his busi­ness to­day, he lost all his fund­ing four years ago but man­aged to con­tinue with growth tri­als and is now ready to com­mer­cialise his op­er­a­tion.

on plan­ning’ and has made ‘in­ter­na­tion­ally ground-break­ing’ ad­vances, but what he has farm has achieved tech­ni­cally.

Asked by Aqua-Spark in­vestor Mike Vel­ings how long he thought he could carry on from month to month’ and that it was a ‘blur and trau­matic’. He had freed up his re­tire­ment he be­lieved in what he was do­ing.

‘It’s a pi­o­neer­ing in­dus­try and we’re still learn­ing a lot of things.’


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