Success Story – Farmers of the Future


Farmers Of The Future Embrace INMED Aquaponics®

Our INMED South Africa team enjoyed talking with two young interns from Nelson Mandela University at our aquaponics system at the Missionvale campus in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape. The area is impoverished, with a high rate of unemployment and a high crime rate, with many youths taking drugs. Unathi Mgcebele is 26 and Sinazo Tomose is 22. Both are studying for a Diploma in Agricultural Management at NMU and plan to pursue aquaponics farming when they graduate.

Why did you want to study agriculture?

Unathi: I’ve been passionate about agriculture since I was young. I used to see older people going to the field to plant crops, and those were the good times. There was less poverty and less crime then. Today, those fields are no longer used to grow crops, and there is a high rate of poverty and crime in my rural area because of a lack of jobs and more youth doing drugs.  I believe agriculture can make a positive change in my community, and I think it could change the lives of those young people taking drugs. If we can use the fields to plant crops again, we can create more jobs for youngsters.

Sinazo: Growing up in a rural area made me realise that not everything needs to be bought but that we can produce more productively using available resources. That is where my love for agriculture started. I wanted to be part of something that is doing so much for people—knowing that I would be part of why people get fed every day by producing food for them. I want to help fight poverty for the less privileged by producing food for them.  Agriculture provides opportunities to work indoors and outdoors and opens up many different careers.

What areas you have enjoyed the most and why?

Unathi: The best part about our day is feeding the fish and watching them play—taking measurements of pH, temperature and oxygen; checking each seedling in the site to see if there is a problem, for example, aphids; looking at the seedlings for the first time growing in stones and being able to see how the aquaponics system works. I enjoy monitoring the system because I’m able to see the problems that lead to the high mortality rate in fish and work out ways to reduce the mortality rate.

Sinazo:  I enjoy everything the [aquaponics] site offers—from the site setup to the crops. This is my first time working in an aquaponics system. How it operates and is set is just so amazing and interesting.  It encourages me to want to learn more about aquaponics and the technology. I wouldn’t have thought of this way of farming, and being part of something that seems to be the future feels so great.

Why do you think agriculture is so important for South Africa?

Unathi: Agriculture is very important in our country because of the high rate of poverty and unemployment. Most people in our community did not get an opportunity to go to school, and most jobs in agriculture can take people who did not go to school. The climate of our country is also great for growing crops that we can export to help strengthen our economy.

Sinazo: I feel it is our country’s most important industry sector. It is the basis for food security and is the main source of food, fodder, and fuel, creating jobs and contributes to the country’s economy.

What advice could you give young people interested in the field?

Unathi: The advice that I could give is that studying agriculture at a college or university is the best decision they could make. There are many opportunities in agriculture, and as the world changes, new technologies, such as aquaponics, are being implemented all the time. We need more farmers to grow food for our rising population. You will never regret it and will be proud of choosing agriculture. We have learnt about organic farming methods to overcome the dangers of fertilisers to the human body. You can make a big difference to our community when you work in sustainable agriculture.

Sinazo: Agriculture needs passion, and it must be something you want to do because it is very hands-on. I would encourage them to look at the bigger picture.

To learn more about INMED South Africa’s aquaponics training and support for future aquaponics farmers, please get in touch with INMED South Africa for more information.

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