PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA: INMED Partnerships for Children and INMED South Africa (INMED) today launched their latest commercial aquaponics facility at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. In partnership with the Mondelēz International Foundation (MIF) and Mondelēz South Africa, this project will provide children from primary schools in low-income communities of Port Elizabeth with access to fresh, nutritious produce and fish. A second aquaponic system will serve primary schools in the Soweto area, with construction scheduled to commence later this year.
INMED has been working in South Africa for more than 10 years, where it has pioneered aquaponics production to promote better nutrition and income generation. Today’s project launch is part of INMED’s Health in Action program, a primary school-based wellness initiative launched in 2015 funded by MIF. It aims to nurture a sustainable, healthy lifestyle culture in schools and communities to help build a healthier future for South Africa’s children. INMED also works with MIF to implement the award-winning Health in Action program in Brazil.
“In South Africa, Health in Action reaches more than 100 000 primary school children annually in 116 schools in 13 at-risk communities in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape,” said Unathi Sihlahla, Program Director of INMED South Africa. “Its three main goals are to ensure school children from disadvantaged communities have access to nutritious food, get enough physical exercise and learn about nutrition through the national school curriculum.”
Aquaponics is an innovative food production technique that combines aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (soilless crop production with the cultivation of plants in water). “Daily consumption of fresh produce is widely acknowledged as key to a well-balanced diet, yet for many in low-income communities, healthy food choices are often out of reach,” said Joost Vlaanderen, Mondelēz South Africa’s Managing Director. “The aquaponic facilities are an attempt to address this challenge.”
In an aquaponic system, water from the fish tanks is enriched with nitrates from fish excretions. The water is then fed into the grow beds, where the nitrates are absorbed by the plants as nutrient-rich food without the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This action filters and circulates clean water back into the fish tanks. As a result, aquaponics utilizes about 90% less water and yields up to 10 times more crops than traditional farming methods.
The Port Elizabeth aquaponic system is expected to produce approximately 28 tons of various greens, 4.4 tons of tomatoes and approximately 2.1 tons of fish annually to supplement the nutritional needs of children at various schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area. The aquaponic system also will provide research opportunities for agricultural students from NMMU, who are studying the importance of adopting sustainable food production practices that conserve natural resources at a time when drought has been threatening the water supply and food security in the Nelson Mandela Bay region.
“INMED is proud to partner with the Mondelēz International Foundation to improve the nutrition and well-being of South African children and their communities,” noted Linda Pfeiffer, President and CEO of INMED Partnerships for Children. “Through our work with the Foundation in Brazil, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in children’s body mass index, and we are working diligently to achieve the same results through collaborative partnerships with school administrators, local governments, non-governmental organizations and communities in South Africa.”
About INMED Partnerships for Children/INMED South Africa
INMED Partnerships for Children is an international humanitarian non-profit organization working to protect children from the immediate and irreversible harm of disease, hunger, abuse, neglect, violence, homelessness and instability, and equip them for self-sufficiency and success. INMED has improved health, lives and opportunities of children and families in more than 100 countries since 1986 and has worked as an international NGO in South Africa since 2006. INMED’s in-country operational group, INMED South Africa, is incorporated under Section 21 and is a registered non-profit organization (NPC/PBO) recognized by the Department of Social Development. INMED South Africa has installed a variety of aquaponic systems countrywide, including in Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Free State provinces to help disadvantaged farmers, schools and communities achieve economic stability and better health. For more information, visit www.inmed.org.
About Mondelēz International Foundation
The Mondelēz International Foundation (MIF) is the charitable arm of global food and beverage conglomerate Mondelēz International. Via international partnerships with leading NGOs, MIF funds nutrition education, active play and fresh foods programs to empower more than one million children and their families around the world to lead healthier lives. For information, visit http://www.mondelezinternational.com/well-being/community-partnerships/our-programs-and-partners.