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Sappi Southern Africa launches aquaponics venture

Amidst the rising unemployment rate among our country's youth, Sappi has directed its social impact efforts toward initiatives that empower young people to access economic opportunities. In addition to its skills centers located at the Saiccor and Ngodwana Mills, Sappi Southern Africa has explored alternative approaches to tackle the country's youth unemployment rate which stood at an alarming 44.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023.

One such innovative intervention is the Ngodwana Aquaponics project. After conducting market research and assessing the feasibility of establishing a community-operated aquaponics farm in the Eland's Valley in Mpumalanga, Sappi joined forces with Standard Bank in May 2022. Jointly, this vision for meaningful social impact, centers on youth job creation projects, with a particular emphasis on agriculture.

Beyond addressing youth unemployment, the project's primary goal is to enhance local food security by providing affordable, high-quality protein through locally farmed Tilapia Rendalli fish. In its initial phase, the project onboarded 30 local youths between September and November 2023.

The Ngodwana Aquaponics project not only upskilled local youths in the basics of aquaculture but also provided training in vegetable and herb production. To ensure overall profitability, the project diversified its offerings by including a range of high-end products for sale at the farm stall. These sought-after artisanal products, such as macadamia pesto, grapefruit marmalade, piquant capsicum peppers, tomato jam, and a hot chili sauce, supplement the income from fish production, allowing the venture to maintain an affordable price point.


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