South Africa: Aquaponics project for children

At Beleaf Aquaponics, based at Belhar Community Centre, the excrement of fish is used to ecologically cultivate vegetables. A pump is used to transport the water with these excrements to the plants, which uses this natural fertilizer to grow very fast. On top of that, the plants filter the water, so that it can be pumped back to the fish. This way, the system uses 90% less water compared to regular soil farming and the vegetables are ready to be harvested after just 30 days.

At the centre, teachers are taught how to integrate the curriculum for Early Child Development into their syllabus. About 125 toddlers are taught how to germinate seeds, plant seedlings and how to harvest the produce.

“The most outstanding feedback I got from the teachers was that after the toddlers come back from feeding the fish in the aquaponics system, they are much more relaxed and open to taking in knowledge,” Ismail said.  “These kids come from broken homes riddled with drug use and domestic abuse. The centre and project have become a sanctuary to them.”

Ismail added that the project provides food for the children and the harvest is sold to a local supplier. “I’ve started to bring science to the project and partnered with other institutes such as iThemba labs and Nanoenergy for Sustainable Development in Africa, where we’re going to try to improve solar collector equipment by introducing new technology in the fields of nanoscience. This will result in the establishment of a centre of excellence at CPUT.”
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