R37m Soweto aquaponics farm set to produce fresh veg, fish

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An Orlando West deputy school principal believes a new aquaponics facility launched in Soweto this week will go a long way towards helping scores of children in the area whose only daily meals are at school.

The R37 million Health in Action project was launched on Thursday in partnership with the City of Johannesburg, Mondelez International Foundation and INMED Partnerships for Children.

INMED opened its second facility since 2017 in the country near the Elias Motsoaledi Clinic.

The project is expected to produce up to two tonnes of greens and 1.09 tonnes of fresh water fish annually for the community of Soweto.

Deputy principal of Lukholweni Primary School in Orlando East, Bomsami Luthuli, said he was extremely excited about the project because it would greatly benefit his community.

He said his school’s feeding scheme, which was initiated by the government, did not provide fresh food.

But this project would produce fare that would be more nutritious for the children and would also host skills development programmes to teach pupils about the importance of soil and agriculture “which is a blessing”.

A general view of seedlings at the launch of the aquaponics facility in Soweto, 11 October 2018. Picture: Refilwe Modise

He added: “There are a lot of children here who come from disadvantaged families and so receiving food from home is very important to them.

“For some, the food here is their only form of solid food for that day. So this project will help them because instead of waiting for government to deliver food, we will have a source of food nearer to us in our own garden.”

Luthuli also said the launch of the project came at an appropriate time with the land debate taking centre stage.

He said he felt agricultural science should be brought back into schools to avoid land being occupied by people who were not equipped to use it.

City of Joburg member of the mayoral committee for health Mpho Phalatse said: “As a medical doctor I have seen that nutrition is a big challenge in South Africa and how we don’t always have ways to address it.

“I worked in the public health care space where you encounter children with malnutrition and adults with malnutrition, whether they are underweight or overweight or obese, and that leads to other health problems.

“This [project] is a huge success. It’s going to have a huge impact on nutrition, but also in other spaces like education, health and creating jobs that will uplift the people of this community.”

jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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Source:citizen.co.za