Top student learning about ‘food for the future’ in overseas study


RECOGNISED for her academic talent, another auspicious alumnus of Alexandria Christian Academy, Nanje Olivier, is doing her Masters degree in aquaculture at Ghent University in Belgium, one of the oldest cities in the world.

Olivier gave up her place at Rhodes University although she had only 48 hours in which to submit her application to Ghent, because she believed God would open the doors to that university.

GRACING GHENT: A graduate of Alexandria Christian Academy, Nanje Olivier, is studying her Msc in aquaculture at the University of Ghent in Belgium
GRACING GHENT: A graduate of Alexandria Christian Academy, Nanje Olivier, is studying her Msc in aquaculture at the University of Ghent in Belgium

She grew up in Alexandria where her mother is principal of Alexandria Christian Academy and her father a veterinarian with a practice in town.  Living in a farming community gave her an interest in the agricultural sciences and living near the sea, the fishing industry.

In her matric year, 2010, she was awarded membership in an international honour society, the National Society of High School Scholars, based on her SAT results.

“It was by God’s grace that I have been able to accomplish what I have. I also have deep gratitude for my parents and especially my mom for investing so much in our education which has proved to be great preparation for further studies,” she said.

She decided to study a Bsc in agriculture animal science with aquaculture at the University of Stellenbosch and earned a Golden Key International Honour Society membership at the end of her first year.

At the end of her final year she was awarded a medal for one of the two best academic performance students in her faculty and the acting dean suggested that she consider pursuing her Masters at Ghent University in Belgium.

“Ghent is a beautiful city! It’s a medieval town with Ghent University having been founded in 1817.  It was an important city in medieval times and at one point it was the second largest city in Europe after Rome,” Olivier said.

When she got all the information she needed to apply, she drove from Alexandria to Stellenbosch to pick up the documents she needed from the university.  She prayed and decided that if she was successful, and was able to submit all the documentation within the next 48 hours, which was all that remained, she would know this was what God had planned for her.

She got the news four months later that her application was successful and began studying her Msc in aquaculture, an English-taught international course programme at Ghent, with classmates from India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mexico and Ecuador.

Aquaculture is considered the answer to food security in the future since it has been predicted that wild fishing stocks will be depleted by the year 2048 due to overfishing and rising population.  Aquaculture or fish farming can be done in fresh or salt water using cages and pens or on land using rain-fed ponds and irrigated tanks.  At the moment farmed fish is still very expensive. But Olivier believes it will become increasingly viable as it can become practicable by the poorest of farmers.

“This is food for the future,” she said.

One particular product, Vietnamese catfish, is sold in Europe under the name of Pangasius and is surprisingly delicious, said Olivier.

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