A TEAM build a small aquaponics system in Port Elizabeth. The harvest goes to schools for use in their feeding schemes. Archive (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – A global enterprise software vendor has partnered with a local IT company to address malnutrition in South African through innovative smart agriculture solutions.

Senior executives from the Sweden-headquartered IFS and Pretoria-based Matsei Technologies and Consulting launched the digital aquaponics farming solution in Johannesburg yesterday.

The initiative uses technology such as the Internet of Things, Enterprise Operational Intelligence and analytics to automate and monitor fish aquaponic operations in real-time.

It is aimed at helping communities to be self-sustainable by farming fish and vegetables and selling them to the informal market to address malnutrition and create employment.

Company executives described the programme as an African turnkey solution that encouraged good nutrition for human development and behaviour, while also being a sustainable community aquaponics solution for the continent’s future.

Leon van Deventer, an agricultural engineer and director at Matsei Technologies and Consulting, said African food production was expected to decrease by 28 percent in the coming years due to climate change.

Van Deventer said the African continent would house 50 percent of global undernourished people by 2080. Food production needed to be increased 70 percent to meet the requirements of the continent’s estimated population of over 1.2 billion.

He said that aggression, theft and antisocial behaviour declined in communities that were nourished.

“It’s been shown that assaults decrease by 82 percent, aggressive and antisocial behaviour by 42 percent, and depression, anxiety and social withdrawal by 62 percent.”

“In Africa it’s not difficult to cultivate starch, the problem is protein,” Van Deventer said, adding that they were bent on integrating smart technologies with rural realities.

The two companies expressed their commitment to transfer digital farming skills to communities, especially to the youth, saying they had an obligation to give back to the communities in which they operated.

“We need to prove to investors that projects are under control and are sustainable,” Van Deventer said. “We intend to establish regional operation control centres to address challenges.”

BUSINESS REPORT