Windhoek-Droughts in recent years and the apparent changes in climate are a driving force behind an exciting new agricultural project called Aquaponics for Improved Nutrition and Employment.
Costing more than N$2 million it has been launched by the Finnish Embassy in partnership with the Namibia Future Farming Trust (NFFT). Finnish Ambassador Anne Saloranta in highlighting the experiences and outcomes of the project says the recent droughts and climate change compel innovative solutions to mitigate climate change. “The combination of agriculture and hydroponics that creates the aquaponics system is indeed a perfect example of a new innovation in Namibia, adapting perfectly to the local environment and local needs,” she notes.
The aquaponics project is funded through the embassy’s Fund for Local Cooperation under the priority area of “Promotion of inclusive green economy that creates employment”. This objective is in line with the Finnish government’s development policy and the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), aiming at creating decent jobs while at the same time taking into account environmental sustainability in terms of energy and water efficiency. This project furthermore contributes towards improved nutrition and nutritional self-sustenance. Over the two years of the project’s existence, eleven aquaponics systems have been established in several locations and different settings in and around Windhoek.
The project aims at eradicating malnutrition through a system that works well in dry and challenging weather conditions and is extremely innovative and suitable for Namibia, where water is scarce. One of the key values of the project has been to introduce aquaponics to communities. The system has been set up in several schools, such as Dagbreek and Moreson special schools, as well as Auas, Van Rhyn and Eros primary schools. In addition it is up and running at the City of Windhoek Olof Palme community garden and Windhoek Correctional Facility. Other sites in the Finnish-funded project include Penduka and the River Crossing lodge.
“Having visited the Dagbreek site, I can say that running and maintaining the system requires training and takes time and commitment, but once the results start coming in, it is truly rewarding,” says Saloranta.
The costs of establishing the system ranges from N$5,000 for a small unit for domestic use, up to N$36,000 for a more sophisticated system for commercial use and the prize thus depends on the size and the purpose for use.
Saloranta also confirms that based on the good results in primary schools in the Windhoek area, she and her husband will sponsor an aquaponics system at a school in the north.
Together with NFFT and its large network of NGO partners working with the youth in northern Namibia, they will identify a school that has an interest in the environment, agriculture and sustainable development.