Fresh food for Soweto

AQUAPONICS FARM OPENS: TWO TONS GREENS, ONE TON OF FISH A YEAR

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS - Chi­som Jen­nif­fer Okoye – jen­nif­fero@cit­i­zen.co.za

School feed­ing schemes will be stocked by the farm, boost­ing kids’ health.

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 tons of greens and 1.09 tons 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”.

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 wheth- er 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.”

Pic­tures: Re­filwe Modise

GAME-CHANGER. Mon­delez Africa manag­ing di­rec­tor Swad­heed Sharma and Gaut­eng mem­ber of the may­oral com­mit­tee for health and so­cial de­vel­op­ment Mpho Pha­latse at the launch of a new aquaponics fa­cil­ity in Soweto this week.

ON THE GO. Seedlings in the aquaponics fa­cil­ity.

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