Humanitarian organization INMED has received a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for expanding its Adaptive Agriculture program (AAP). The program integrates people with disabilities in the Free State Province of South Africa into the mainstream economy. INMED targets the interrelated issues that disabled citizens face, such as exclusion, food security, and nutrition by introducing aquaponics to small farmers and producers.
Free State is considered the bread basket of South Africa but also the province with the highest percentage of citizens with disabilities—11 percent, or more than 230,000 people.
INMED South Africa and INMED Partnerships for Children will use the grant to update and install aquaponics systems for three cooperatives of farmers with disabilities in Free State. Each aquaponics system can produce approximately 26,000 kg of various greens, 4,000 kg of fruiting plants such as tomatoes and sweet peppers, and 1,900 kg of fish. The project aims at increasing the participation of the disabled in sustainable agricultural production and strengthening civil society organizations run by and for people with disabilities.
“Aquaponics allows the small farmer to change from trying to grow corn and other crops that require a lot of space to grow produce and herbs that can generate a better income in a small area,” says Janet Ogilvie, Operations Manager of INMED South Africa.
“Aquaponics does not involve the physical labor required of traditional farming, and our system can be tailored to accommodate various disabilities, such as grow beds that are wheelchair accessible,” says Dr Linda Pfeiffer, founder and CEO of INMED Partnerships for Children. “Aquaponics provides not only year-round food security but also an opportunity for people with disabilities to support themselves and their families,” she adds.
The greatest challenge for INMED, according to Ogilvie, has been sourcing supplies for the project. “We eventually found a supplier who is able to source most supplies for us. Some supplies have been bought in Johannesburg and transported to the sites, but they are few and very specific supplies such as solar,” says Ogilvie.
“We would ultimately like to expand the project for people with disabilities in all nine provinces in South Africa and Southern Africa,” says Ogilvie. INMED is also scaling its aquaponics programs in Jamaica and Peru and just launched a program in Brazil.