The INMED Aquaponics® Social Enterprise (INMED ASE) is the latest initiative of INMED Partnerships for Children to address global food security, climate-change adaptation, inclusion, sustainable livelihoods and other intertwined causes of systemic poverty. It builds on INMED’s expertise in climate-smart aquaponics to help vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, women and youth, achieve food security and self-reliance.
Aquaponics is an intensive form of agriculture, combining hydroponics and fish farming in a closed symbiotic system that produces at least 10 times more crops than traditional farming using a tenth of the water, with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Over the past 10 years, INMED has developed an innovative, simplified form of aquaponics and a unique implementation model to deliver inclusive and sustainable food production in regions hard hit by climate change. This model has been tested on three continents, with operations in 14 locations in South Africa, including in schools and with cooperatives led by women and people with disabilities and is ready to scale nationally and beyond.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of the critical need for local food production that can be adapted to local conditions, even where scarce water, soil and space conditions exist—mitigating the effects of climate change, and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of production. More than just providing food security, our innovative INMED Aquaponics® model was designed to transform struggling communities into thriving climate-smart hubs of self-reliance.
An Agro-business Incubator: INMED ASE is an innovative incubator of entrepreneurial agro-enterprises for climate-smart food production. The first INMED ASE hub (or center) is located near Johannesburg, South Africa. It houses two commercial aquaponics systems that will be used for food production, training and research. It also will serve as a consolidation center for aquaponics farmers to sell their harvests at higher market rates as well as purchase inputs, such as seedlings and fingerlings, at wholesale prices.
A Value Chain of Support for Agro-entrepreneurs: What makes the INMED ASE unique is that it is designed to provide the entire value chain of support to help small-scale farmers and traditionally marginalized populations overcome the barriers to entry, sustainability and scale. This support is provided at no cost to participants and includes:
It’s Self-sustaining: For the INMED ASE, sustainability is key, generating revenue from the sale of crops and fish from its own aquaponics systems as well as earning reimbursements for training and consolidation services. Its business model also establishes satellite centers to provide localized training, resources and production to scale the venture nationally. INMED South Africa has already launched satellite centers run by farming cooperatives, schools and communities in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape provinces.