Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics

by INMED Partnerships for Children, Inc.
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Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Fund Jamaican Farmers in Climate-Smart Aquaponics
Agriculture Minister visits 4-H system. Photo: 4-H
Agriculture Minister visits 4-H system. Photo: 4-H

INMED Caribbean is excited to partner with Jamaica 4-H Clubs to implement the INMED Aquaponics® Social Enterprise (INMED ASE) in Jamaica. It is the first INMED ASE to be launched beyond South Africa, where it has been scaling throughout the country. 

The INMED ASE is an expansion of the Increasing Access to Climate-smart Agriculture (IACA) program that INMED Caribbean has been facilitating over the past four years in Jamaica. Like the IACA program, the INMED ASE will continue to provide technical and business training, access to affordable financing and links to markets to help smallholder farmers increase their capacity and incubate entrepreneurial agro-enterprises. The INMED ASE will be operated out of a hub farm, which will operate commercial aquaponics systems for training and producing crops for sale and will serve as a consolidation center for smallholder farmers to sell their harvests at much higher rates than they would get on their own. The farm will also offer significantly discounted inputs, such as seedlings, fingerlings and fish food as well as consulting services. The revenue generated from the INMED ASE business lines will make the enterprise self-sustaining and will provide funding for the programs. 

The INMED ASE hub farm is located on a 14-acre parcel of land owned by 4-H in Clarendon, where INMED Caribbean implemented commercial aquaponics systems in five communities hit hard by severe climate change events in 2020. "Like aquaponics, our partnership with Jamaica 4-H Clubs is a symbiotic relationship," said Sherica Campbell, Program Manager of INMED Caribbean. "The 4-H mission to cultivate youth in agriculture perfectly aligns with INMED's goal of providing training and adaptive agriculture skills development for vulnerable youth to achieve well-being and self-reliance." The partnership will also help INMED Caribbean increase its support of the farmers in Clarendon.

INMED Caribbean also implemented its first starter aquaponics system at a 4-H Club facility in urban Kingston to serve as a model and teaching tool for training youth in climate-change awareness, adaptation, sustainable food production, entrepreneurship and agricultural innovation. Jamaica's Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles, Jr., recently visited the site for a demonstration and expressed his support for the initiative.

"This starter system is well placed to serve inner-city youth, while demonstrating how aquaponics is ideal for urban agriculture," says Campbell. A launch event for the INMED ASE in Jamaica will be held in May.

INMED is building its 1st INMED ASE hub in Jamaica
INMED is building its 1st INMED ASE hub in Jamaica

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300+ future farmers took INMED Aquaponics training
300+ future farmers took INMED Aquaponics training

Since our last report in September, more than 100 individuals have taken our INMED Aquaponics® training, reaching more than 300 future farmers trained in 2021. The training consisted of online and hands-on training at one of our INMED Aquaponics® systems in Clarendon.

INMED Caribbean has also forged several partnerships to provide additional support to the five Clarendon cooperatives to help them increase capacity and scale their impact for the future. Partners that are supporting the Clarendon aquaponics farmers include:

  •       Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA): Agricultural enterprise training and technical assistance for participants
  •       Social Development Commission (SDC): Governance and leadership training as well organizational assistance for participants
  •       Ministry of Economic Growth & Job Creation (MEGJC): Funding and policy support for adoption of aquaponics farming operations
  •       Community Development Committees (CDC): Participating communities of Aenon Town, Alston, James Hill, John’s Hall and Ritchies in Northern Clarendon

We’re happy to report that all of the INMED aquaponics systems in Clarendon are producing bountiful harvests. All have provided food security to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the donations of fresh produce to local hospitals and soup kitchens. And, despite a second round of devastating floods in Aneon Town, our INMED Aquaponics® system remained resilient. 

Another exciting development is a new partnership with 4-H Clubs Jamaica, which is helping INMED Caribbean launch its new starter system and training program for residential farmers and youth. The partnership establishes a framework for mutual cooperation and implementation of INMED's residential aquaponics system at a 4-H facility in Kingston to serve as a model and teaching tool for training youth in climate-change awareness, adaptation, sustainable food production, entrepreneurship and agricultural innovation, and to serve as a model for demonstration of the technology. 

Funded by the Government of Jamaica under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica 4-H Clubs provide specialized training to mobilize, educate and equip youth to develop sustainable enterprises and become positive contributors to national development. 

The 4-H mission dovetails perfectly with the INMED Aquaponics® goal of helping distressed communities strengthen food security, climate adaptation and sustainable livelihoods. INMED Caribbean has already held training workshops on the starter system. In a few weeks, it will be brimming with fresh produce to harvest.

Our team at INMED Caribbean is grateful for all the support and encouragement they have received from our GlobalGiving donors. You are truly part of the INMED family now, and we look forward to improving more lives in Jamaica with your support in the coming year.

Training includes virtual, classroom & hands-on
Training includes virtual, classroom & hands-on
Starter system helps backyard farmers get started
Starter system helps backyard farmers get started
Bounty crop of pak-choi & romaine lettuce - Alston
Bounty crop of pak-choi & romaine lettuce - Alston
Fragrant basil crops in Ritchies' system
Fragrant basil crops in Ritchies' system
A new crop flourishes in James Hill
A new crop flourishes in James Hill
Crisp, high-quality romaine lettuce in Johns Hall
Crisp, high-quality romaine lettuce in Johns Hall
Fresh produce donation for local hospital - Alston
Fresh produce donation for local hospital - Alston

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Felicia D. earns INMED Aquaponics certification
Felicia D. earns INMED Aquaponics certification

Dear Valued Supporter:

Agriculture has been an integral part of the Jamaican economy, and for many years, local agriculture accounted for most of the food consumed in the country. As climate change disrupts the food supply and production on the island, INMED Aquaponics® is leading the charge to assist farmers in implementing aquaponics systems to ensure sustainable livelihoods and food security for local communities. 

One such farmer is Vanessa G. from Manchester.  She was previously involved in livestock farming but decided to focus on fish farming—a long-time interest. She had the basic knowledge of the process as well as some equipment to start on this new venture and reached out to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) for technical guidance. RADA connected her to the Senior Regional Technical Officer at INMED Caribbean, who explained the benefits of aquaponics and INMED’s free training program for farmers.

“I decided to go through the training, because after I received the initial information from the INMED team, I wanted to learn more,” says Vanessa. In addition to learning how aquaponics is climate resilient, less labor intensive and yields significantly higher harvests than traditional farming year-round, she also was impressed with the environmental benefits.

“Because aquaponics doesn’t use dirt, there is no need for certain herbicides, fertilizers and chemicals,” says Vanessa. “The fish provides most of the nutrients you need for your system.”

She was one of the first to achieve free online certification in INMED Aquaponics® and built her own backyard aquaponics system under the guidance of INMED Caribbean’s technical team. “The great thing about INMED Aquaponics is that the system is scalable, and you can move at your own pace,” she notes. “You can start small with just one tank and then you can build your system and increase as you see fit.”  

Vanessa already had fish tanks and some of equipment, which helped reduce cost. And because INMED’s systems are constructed of locally available materials and can be solar powered, construction costs are affordable. “INMED’s guidance through the process of setting up my system was extremely valuable,” she says.

There are many success stories of farmers who have taken the aquaponics plunge in Jamaica and are now producing enough vegetables to supply their families and sell for extra income. Still others are in various stages of implementation. One such farmer is Felicia D., also from Manchester. She found INMED Caribbean while researching aquaponics online. Felicia has always been interested in farming and wants to contribute to the Vision 2030 strategy for food security. She is building out her commercial aquaponics system with the assistance of a neighbor who has a thriving hydroponics system.

Felicia completed the INMED Aquaponics® training and is in the process of getting her system up and running. "INMED Caribbean has been great during this process,” she says. “They have helped me with any issue I’ve faced while sorting everything out. INMED also mentored and coached us through the financing process and was with us the entire journey.” INMED Caribbean also has trained RADA agents across the island to provide ongoing technical assistance to farmers when they need it.

Lorna S., a RADA Senior Livestock Parish Officer for Manchester, recommends INMED’s aquaponics training for all farmers interested in fish farming and vegetable production. She was one of the first RADA agents to be trained in INMED Aquaponics in 2018.  “You can produce fish and vegetables simultaneously, and you can set a higher price for the vegetables since they don’t contain harmful pesticides,” she says. “And because you can do aquaponics in smaller spaces, it’s a new way of rearing fish without having a pond. I always tell people about INMED Aquaponics and highly recommend the training.”

Thanks to your generous support, INMED Caribbean is equipping women in a climate-vulnerable region how to strengthen their food security, climate adaptation, livelihoods and self-reliance through INMED Aquaonics®. Learn more at https://inmedcaribbean.org.

As always, thank you for your support! If you haven't done so already, please consider becoming a recurring donor and share this project with your friends.

With gratitude,

The INMED Caribbean Team

Vanessa G. tends her backyard aquaponics system
Vanessa G. tends her backyard aquaponics system
Farmers get hands-on technical + business training
Farmers get hands-on technical + business training
Women see aquaponics as a path to self-reliance
Women see aquaponics as a path to self-reliance
Trained RADA agents offer ongoing tech support
Trained RADA agents offer ongoing tech support

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Onsite, hands-on training makes all the difference
Onsite, hands-on training makes all the difference

TRAINING has been the focus of the INMED Aquaponics® program in Jamaica in the past quarter. Thanks to the support of the US Embassy Kingston, IDB Lab and other governmental and multinational partners, INMED has continued to strengthen aquaponics farmers in Clarendon and island-wide-- increasing the knowledge and skills of these farmers in the innovative technology, business management and governance. Our team at INMED Caribbean held two training workshops in January in northern Clarendon in partnership with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).

The initial training schedule planned for five consecutive weekly workshops to be completed in January and February. After staging the second workshop, however, INMED paused face-to-face activities due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the northern Clarendon region. INMED continued to support the groups remotely and through site visits, as possible, while observing COVID -19 safety protocols.

Making “Lettuce-Aid” Out of a Down Market

We’re pleased to report that five aquaponics farming cooperatives in Clarendon have taken great care of their systems, resulting in a bumper crop of romaine lettuce in February. Unfortunately, because of Canada’s travel ban to the Caribbean and US advisories against travel to Jamaica due to the pandemic, the market demand for romaine lettuce was severely diminished. Undaunted, the groups found creative ways to distribute their produce, including donations to the Percy Junior Hospital in Spaulding, Clarendon.

Next Steps

To ensure safe and effective delivery of the additional training planned for aquaponics farmers in Clarendon, INMED will double the number of planned workshops to accommodate smaller groups to remain COVID vigilant. The workshops will be held outdoors at different community aquaponics systems in May and June. Smaller groups will allow for more hands-on training for participants, increasing their access to reliable information and support as they gain experience with aquaponics farming, as well as allow for increased monitoring and evaluation activities. Upon completing planned training activities and filling gaps to optimize production, producers will be positioned to supply their identified markets.

These new aquaponics farmers have struggled with food insecurity and economic decline due to the destructive impacts of severe climate events in their communities. Today, they have more reliable harvests for sustainable incomes, and their families and neighbors have fresh, nutritious food on their tables. The entire INMED organization is grateful for your support of this transformational project.

Special thanks to IACA Project Manager Earl Ashley for providing this update .

Business training is a key to INMED Aquaponics
Business training is a key to INMED Aquaponics
RADA agent training is key to sustainability
RADA agent training is key to sustainability
INMED's system in Alston is a showstopper
INMED's system in Alston is a showstopper
INMED's sytem in Ritchies is thriving
INMED's sytem in Ritchies is thriving
Farmers donate "lettuce aid" to local hospital
Farmers donate "lettuce aid" to local hospital
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INMED's training systems are in 3 votech schools
INMED's training systems are in 3 votech schools

As INMED around the world has learned over decades, adaptation does not just apply to climate change. Program activities, approaches and response efforts must also adapt to meet ever changing conditions and needs within the communities where we work. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been a prime example of the need for adaptation and resiliency.

To continue fulfilling our mission of building pathways for vulnerable children, families and communities to achieve wellbeing and self-reliance, our team at INMED Caribbean had to rethink how to deliver adaptive agriculture training and development in a COVID-safe manner while also addressing the growing need for local food production and economic sustainability. The solution was to improve and expand our online course and add interactive virtual training, which has allowed us to engage more farmers and build capacity remotely. We also increased the number of virtual business coaching sessions for individuals and solidified partnerships with agricultural universities to establish demonstration systems and curricula to train the next generation of farmers.

New Starter Kit Rolled Out

In the last quarter of 2020, INMED Caribbean introduced a home starter kit for urban backyard farming and for traditional smallholder farmers seeking to start small to increase capacity and income streams. Inexpensive and modular, this simple and effective system is designed to be a gateway to larger commercial systems as farmers gain experience and confidence to further expand production. This will also allow us to reach risk- and credit-averse individuals who may not be ready or interested in financing large, commercial systems.

We are happy to report that aquaponics is increasingly accepted as a commercially viable technology for small- and medium-sized Jamaican farmers. More than 100 existing and potential agro-entrepreneurs have completed our online training course, with nearly 50 rural agricultural extension agents trained and providing ongoing technical support. Our community-based systems in the degraded watershed area of Clarendon are producing well, and our team continues to deliver business training to these burgeoning enterprises.

Value Chain Continues to Grow

In the coming months, we will continue to build our network of local buyers and schedule networking events for aquaponics producers. We are also engaging local input and service providers to source seeds, fish feed, etc. based on geographic location and supply needs to strengthen the whole value chain for maximum production success.

Our team at INMED Caribbean and the emerging aquaponics farmers your donation is supporting are grateful for your generosity. If you haven’t done so yet, please consider becoming a recurring donor to this important project. We’re looking forward to sharing our progress with you in 2021.

INMED is building a robust value chain for farmers
INMED is building a robust value chain for farmers
Community systems are strengthening food security
Community systems are strengthening food security

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Organization Information

INMED Partnerships for Children, Inc.

Location: Sterling, VA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @inmedchildren
Project Leader:
Mary-Lynne Lasco
Sterling, VA United States
$9,752 raised of $15,000 goal
 
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