AFRICA INVESTMENT-S.Africa's gold sector spawns "made in Lesotho" sushi
By Ed Stoddard
KATSE DAM, Lesotho, March 20 (Reuters) - The idea of Japanese consumers eating sushi exported from a tiny African country with no coastline may sound improbable, but the kingdom of Lesotho is pulling it off.
Hatched in the boardroom of South African bullion producer Gold Fields, a project called Highlands Trout is now exporting 2,000 tonnes of rainbow trout a year, mainly to Japanese supermarket chain CGC.
It is even by-passing Tsukiji, Tokyo's massive wholesale fish market - usually the first destination for fish imported to Japan - to sell the trout directly to the retail market in a country where consumer standards for sushi are the highest.
"We managed to bypass Tsukiji because of the quality of the trout and the relationship we built and the approach we took and so we went straight into retail," said project manager Stuart Slabbert.
"Made in Africa sushi" is a new twist in the African/Asian trade story, offering hope that a poor, land-locked country can tap its natural resources to produce and export a high-value product to discerning consumers.
It also highlights the limits of global trade as the jobs created in rural Lesotho, while welcome, cannot compensate for the loss of jobs for migrant labour in South Africa's mines, long the mainstay of Lesotho's economy.
A mountainous country, completely encircled by South Africa, Lesotho supplies water to its much bigger neighbour.
Peering down at the blue waters of the Katse Dam from Lesotho's green mountains, one thinks of the fjords of Chile or Norway, top fish farming nations famed for their pink salmon. Continuación...