South African Adaptive Agriculture Program

South Africa

Location: South Africa

Sustainable food systems represent one of the greatest development challenges of the coming decade, especially in the face of climate change. To confront that challenge, INMED has adopted an innovative food production technique known as aquaponics, combining aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (soilless crop production). INMED experts have modified the technique to use “off the shelf” local materials, making it inexpensive and therefore more accessible to poor families and communities.

Aquaponic systems are roughly 10 times as productive as equivalently sized plots that are traditionally cultivated, and protect both the quantity and quality of water resources by requiring no chemical fertilizers or pesticides and utilizing 85-90% less water than traditional irrigation techniques.

In many locations, the aquaponic tanks will produce tilapia, a hardy, fast-growing and widely consumed fish. Most important for this system, tilapia can grow and thrive with duckweed, a rapidly reproducing, high-protein aquatic plant species found across the globe, as its sole source of food.

A low-maintenance pond and grow-bed system can meet the nutritional needs of a family of four, plus additional fish and produce that can be sold to generate household income.

The system can be effectively expanded and operated on a commercial scale as well.

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