Aquaponics teaches young people a multitude of skills and concepts about the agricultural ecosystem. It is still a relatively new concept for most people, but it is fast catching on with many schools realising the potential. Students can not only learn about the importance of sustainability, but can also implement the agricultural strategies they learn at home to provide food security for their families, as well as possibly generate an income.
One passionate young man with green fingers and an even bigger “green heart” is Grade 7 pupil Mikaar Sewkuran, who is inspiring other young people to have a love and appreciation for a better environment.
Tasked with a project to develop an idea on a UN Sustainable Development Goal and present findings in the form of an exhibition at the school, Mikaar, who attends Crawford International in Fourways, chose to do his project on the environment, with a focus on clean energy sources and eco-friendly products. Mikaar and a classmate did extensive desktop research on their respective topics, interviewing members of industry and visiting the INMED Aquaponics® Social Enterprise (INMED ASE) in Vanderbijlpark to learn more about aquaponics.
“Aquaponics is about combining aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing crops without soil) in a closed system. I think that this is a really clever way to do farming, as it is great for the environment. You do not have to have a big space, you use 80% less water, and the crops grow faster and do not have any chemicals,” says Mikaar.
The boys brought their two topics together by talking about aquaponics, including building a little aquaponics system. They showed through aquaponics how the environment can be positively impacted by using a clean energy source (solar energy) to produce eco-friendly products (vegetables and fish) without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides
At the exhibition Mikaar spoke with confidence and passion about Aquaponics, as well as the meaningful work INMED South Africa is doing via the INMED ASE, which is a revolutionary incubator of agro-enterprises to transition historically marginalised populations from subsistence to self-reliance.
“I was very excited to share more about what I had learnt from the INMED team with pupils and parents at my school. I know that many parents want to learn more about this incredible farming method and INMED South Africa,” says Mikaar.
The INMED ASE programme is in partnership with Mondelēz International’s Sustainable Futures initiative and USAID.
“We are so proud of the example Mikaar is setting for young people,” said INMED South Africa Programme Director Unathi Sihlahla. A decade ago, ago, INMED partnered with Air Products on an innovative journey to introduce aquaponics into school curricula with actual systems to produce food for school feeding schemes, along with education and training.
“We now have countless examples of schools around the country starting to embrace aquaponics, and we are just so proud that young people are also now starting to share our passion and becoming young ambassadors in their communities,” says Sihlahla.