Aquaponics is a collaborative method of growing plants & farming fish simultaneously. Crops within the system are organic & pest-resistant.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Enactus Durban University of Technology
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Headquarters: Springfield, Missouri, United States of America
National Office: Johannesburg, South Africa
Location(s) of impact
SouthAfrica: Noodsberg area, KwaZulu-Natal
Pictured: Tilapia fingerlings in aquaponics fish tank
Pictured: Lettuce growing in a floating bed aquaponics system.
Pictured: Enactus D.U.T students conducting a project site inspection.
Pictured: Enactus D.U.T students and Mr Ngcobo constructing the Aquaponics system.
Taking Action in Noodsberg.
In consideration of identified challenges and the available livelihood assets, the team together with Mr Ngcobo agreed to explore the innovative agricultural concept of aquaponics. In the first phase of our intervention, a greenhouse was built for the purpose of providing shelter to the aquaponics systems. Once the greenhouse was complete, 3 aquaponics structures were assembled.
Pictured: Enactus Durban University student inspecting plants in the green house.
Some of the plants are supported by floating beds whilst others by clay balls. In order to utilise the remaining space in the greenhouse, at the same time affording an opportunity for plants that do not thrive outside the green house to flourish, Mr Ngcobo placed drums in which tomatoes are planted. In addition, vertical and auxiliary beds were placed in the greenhouse in which more vegetables are planted.
Kotshiza Aquaponics green house
Vertical-growing plants in Kotshiza greenhouse
Enactus Durban university student harvesting fresh produce from Kotshiza greenhouse.
Tomatoes grown in Kotshiza greenhouse
Local members buying fresh produce from Kotshiza Aquaponics farm.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Noodsberg is a rural community that falls under the Ndwedwe municipality. Research done by the Enactus team revealed that over 75% of the Noordsburg community rely on subsistence farming for a livelihood. However, with the ever changing weather pattern and climate, the feasibility of subsistence farming is being threatened by drought and subsequent food insecurity. Farmers in the area grow seasonal plants, yet the demand for such prevails all year round. This creates a disequilibrium in the market for fresh produce.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Aquaponics entails a holistic approach of growing plants and farming fish simultaneously whereby waste from the fish supplies nutrients to the plants, which in turn purify the water. In comparison to the conventional methods of farming, the aquaponics system is more efficient as it reduces the maturation time of plants by over 30%. Moreover, the crops grown within the system are organic, pest-resistant and do not require weeding. The value that this business brings to the community, is convenient all year round access to fresh produce availed to locals at a relatively affordable price. Furthermore, a cheaper protein source (tilapia fish) is available to the community,contributing towards nutrition security in Noodsberg & addressing Global goals number 1 & 2 . Further, aquaponics uses 90% less water compared to traditional farming, addressing UN SDG 12. In due consideration of the environment, organic fertiliser is used thus reducing ecological footprint, addressing UN SDG 13.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
In November 2016, a greenhouse was erected to house 3 aquaponics systems on the main beneficiary, Mr Ngcobo's land. He completed a course in aquaponics training from an accredited training provider organised by Enactus DUT in February 2017.
Youth don't see farming as a career option. Mr Ngcobo has motivated 10 youth to subscribe to farming (entrepreneurship), trained and provided them with casual employment.
Since the introduction of aquaponics farming to his business, Mr Ngcobo has increased his revenue by over 50%. He has also recently been able to purchase a bakkie for the business.
By farming aquaponically, Mr Ngcobo is saving his household over 90% of drinking water.
The community has been introduced to a rich source of protein (fish) that was not previously available locally. The provision of fresh produce even out of season saves the locals from travelling to the nearest town to buy cold storage produce which is expensive and has a lesser nutritional value.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
Other: 10% (Institutional support)
Earned Income: 50% (Owner's Contribution)
The introduction of fish to vegetables a single component of a farm system has been intensified as the fish provide nutrients that enhance per hectare yields. A secondary revenue stream through the sale of fish has also been realised. The tunnel system promotes water efficiency while also increasing crop intensity.
The aquaponics system has enabled Mr Ngcobo to grow tomatoes that do not normally grow in the Noodsberg climatic conditions as well as other crops that he is able to grow out of season thereby, giving him a competitive advantage in the market. The demand for his product has led to the scaling of the project through the construction of additional tunnels using recycled plastic bottles.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Aquaponics farming is a fairly new concept in SA. This initiative is innovative as vegetables are planted in gravel & not soil, receiving rich nutrients from fish waste. Because of this, vegetables can be planted closer together than in traditional farming thereby resulting in a bigger crop yields. Filtered water is channeled back to fish tanks, saving 90% of water. Energy used to drive the water pump can be generated via solar panels thus saving electricity. The system is holistic in nature.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
Enactus DUT identified Mr Ngcobo through a newsletter in which he was mentioned as a rising entrepreneur who had overcome numerous challenges to set up a pig rearing project in rural Noodsberg . We got a glimpse of his every day reality and realised that he had set a phenomenal precedence of what it truly means to fly at high altitude against the wind, defying the odds. His soaring spirit and willpower to succeed indicated the nature of a visionary whose passion and focus on transformation and community development would not go unnoticed. When the Enactus team approached him with the proposed technique of farming, his enthusiasm in trying something new was evident in his responses. We were supposed to teach Mr Ngcobo but his positive outlook and solution orientation in embracing his business opportunity has impacted each of us and AHA ... an inspiration to the local community and to us.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?
Upon recommendation from others