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Johannesburg – As a fitting tribute to mark the end of Deaf Awareness Month in September, INMED South Africa partnered with the Deaf Empowerment Firm (DEF) to organize an aquaponics training workshop for a group of people hearing impaired at INMED Aquaponics Social Enterprise (INMED ASE) in Vanderbijlpark.

INMED ASE is a new type of entrepreneurial agribusiness incubator for climate-smart food production.

Led by DEF and INMED South Africa, with the support of strategic partners from the Mondelēz International Foundation and USAID South Africa, this project promotes the positive aspects of deafness, as well as the social inclusion of all members of the deaf communities as well as the essential skills development options offered by INMED ASE for the hearing impaired.

Commenting on Mondelēz International’s decision to invest in the aquaponics social enterprise initiative, Navisha Bechan-Sewkuran, Mondelēz’s government and corporate affairs manager for sub-Saharan Africa, said the initiative is in line with the initiatives of ‘corporate social investment that aim to contribute to sustainability economic empowerment, through education, training and development of entrepreneurial skills.

Image provided.

Aquaponics is a form of intensive agriculture, combining hydroponics and fish farming in a closed symbiotic system that produces at least 10 times more crops than traditional agriculture using one-tenth of the water, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. , makes this possible – even where they are scarce. the conditions of water, soil and space exist. Most importantly, the technique is adaptable, user-friendly and safe for people with disabilities.

Wednesday, September 29 marked the start of the two-day theoretical and practical training for 15 hearing-impaired young people from Soweto and Orange Farm as they entered the world of aquaponics.

DEF Founder and CEO Alex Msitshana explains that this is the organization’s first project in the agriculture sector and a great way to explore opportunities where we could empower our candidates in a challenging environment. social / agricultural enterprise. “We have identified aquaponics agriculture as one of the best programs for empowering deaf youth and with this common vision a partnership has been formed with INMED South Africa.”

DEF’s first contact with INMED South Africa was greeted with great enthusiasm, as both groups share similar missions. “We visited the INMED companies in Soweto and Vanderbijlpark and were pleasantly encouraged by the functioning of this farming system,” says Msitshana.

Unathi Sihlahla, program director for INMED South Africa, says the synergy between DEF and INMED ASE was evident from the start.

Msitshana agrees. “INMED ASE reinforces our vision to change the perception that Deaf people are only fit for menial work,” she says. “Having aquaponics skills and running a successful aquaponics business will serve to affirm that Deaf people can do this kind of work as well. Aquaponics will also help our candidates to acquire a new skill which is currently rare in our country. “

Almost all of the candidates participating in the training do not have a diploma due to the challenges that deaf learners face. “In our country, most schools for the deaf do not offer programs up to the matrix level,” says Msitshana.

During the two-day session, trainees learned how to build a simple aquaponics structure from scratch, tackle climate change, care for products and fish, access markets, and learn financial management.

After the training, candidates will join DEF’s corporate development business unit.

“We have no doubt that what the 15 DEF candidates have learned over the two days at INMED ASE will be of great benefit to them as individuals and valued members of family and community in the future, and we wish them all the best. In the future, we hope to collaborate with other government stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Rural Development as well as the Ministry of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, to provide longer-term skills development training, ”said Sihlahla.

“The objective is to move our candidates from job seekers to job creators. INMED ASE will serve both as a training venue and as an entity to provide employment to other hard of hearing people seeking employment. We see this partnership with INMED as a catalyst to help applicants start their own businesses from which they can make a sustainable living, ”Msitshana said.

The Saturday Star

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