Financial viability of biomass produced in small-scale, low-cost aquaponic system in Ndwedwe.
Phungula, Mthabiso Lethukuthula.
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This study sought to determine the financial viability of small-scale, low-cost aquaponic systems in KwaZulu-Natal, particularly a small-scale, low-cost aquaponic system based in a rural homestead in Ndwedwe. The objectives of the study were to ascertain the financial viability of biomass yield (both fish and plants) in a small-scale, low-cost aquaponic system and to determine factors that affect the biomass output of a small-scale, low-cost aquaponic system. Aquaponics possesses the potential for food security and local economic development, because in aquaponics two enterprises (fish and vegetables) could be developed. However, aquaponics is an emerging practice in South Africa that possesses the potential of creating employment and ensuring household food security. The conventional methods of producing food have been criticised for producing toxic runoff which has had cumulative pollution effects. These effects include; the toxins from artificial fertilizers seeping into water bodies where people and marine life consume the intoxicated water. Conventional farming methods also increase soil run- off which depletes the soil reserves needed for sustainable farming practices. Aquaponics provides an alternative, sustainable method of farming which does not pose a threat to any ecosystems. On a global scale, it is evident that there is a need for innovative means of food production to address food and nutrition insecurity and the social ills that come with it such as poverty. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs. Food and nutrition security are measured by four pillars, namely; access, availability, utilization and stability. These four pillars are determinants of food security, they measure whether people have sufficient access to safe and healthy food, and they are the standard by which food and nutrition security is determined. Access, availability, utilization and stability in food security is influenced by numerous factors such as politics, economic stability, location and dietary preferences. Aquaponics could enhance food sovereignty for both food and nutrition security, if implemented in communities, thereby serving all food security pillars.