"Alex residents that want to grow various crops for self-sustenance or to sell but are challenged by the unavailability of land need to venture into aquaponics farming," says Unathi Sihlahla. He is the Inmed SA program director and runs the Inmed Aquaponics Social Enterprise. He said it was a venture that sought to cut the barriers that prevented people from getting into farming due to the unaffordability of land.
In a crowded place such as Alexandra, space becomes an issue and aquaponics farming was most ideal for the township’s space-challenged environment, he added. The farmers can use the farming system to feed their own families or use it for income generation purposes too.
“Aquaponics farming only uses water for your plants. There is no digging, no constant cultivation, no weeding, no addition of any form of manure whether organic or fertilizer, no use of pesticides to keep ‘goggas’ away, and no form of any hard labor at all,” Sihlahla said.
Sihlahla said they were currently in negotiations with the government to ensure that aquaponics farming could be made available to all. “The only challenge so far is the equipment to set up the farming process as you might also need some fish tanks to use the water from the fish to water the plants that purely grow on the nutrients from the fish water.
“The same water is cleaned up using pebbles when it is diverted to the plants and then recycled back to the fish. The system only uses 10% of the water as it continuously recycles the water between the plants and the fish, making the farming process environmental-friendly especially in the fight against climate change and the need to conserve our water resources.”
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