Meet Luvo Gugwana and his Aquaponics Project.
He is introducing sustainable ways of farming that many farmers can now use. He was born in the Eastern Cape and has now moved to Durban to do a degree in Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics at the Durban University of Technology.
While he was studying he learnt about entrepreneurship and started his company Green Ark Innovations that deals with aquaponics concepts. The company goal is to introduce environmentally sustainable farming that meets the demands of a rising population.
Luvo was first interested in social development, however, after being introduced to entrepreneurship at University and discovering social entrepreneurship he saw that this was a way of developing communities and society as a whole. He was introduced to aquaponics in 2017 and researched the field further as there are few aquaponics farmers in SA. He noticed how different it was to conventional farming. With support from Ford, he was able to develop a concept and be convinced that this is a sustainable approach to farming that can work. Apart from the pilot site, the project also has two sites around KwaZulu-Natal where they want to initiate the project and the project is also receiving inquiries from municipalities to create commercial-sized sites.
The project faces challenges such as being labour and cost intensive, with the erection of the structure as well as components for the system requiring a significant outlay of capital. Management of the project also requires technical expertise which means not everyone can manage the system, something which makes empowering communities in which they set up the systems difficult.
He is drawn to social entrepreneurship because it impacts a lot of people on a socio-economic level. By working in the social entrepreneurship space he is able to create something that can help underdeveloped communities and partner with cooperatives in order to empower those communities. The project has also opened up research in partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal where aspects of aquaponics such as fish growth, water manipulation, pH, fish life spans and crop growth speed are studied, the results of which will be used to compare aquaponics to conventional farming. The aim is to bridge the gap between aquaponics and conventional farming, overcome the cost barrier and bring the project to provinces around the country, as well as bring it into the school curriculum so that students can be trained in this new sustainable way of farming.
Luvo Gugwana is one of 14 social entrepreneurs selected to attend this year’s Red Bull Amaphiko Academy in Durban.
There are many opportunities for the youth in Durban. eThekwini Municipality also offers many initiatives for the youth. For more info visit: www.durban.gov.za
This edition by Fred Felton | Twitter @fredfelton