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
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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INMED team meets with HEART on aquaponics project
INMED team meets with HEART on aquaponics project

Since our last report, our team at INMED Caribbean has working to make INMED Aquaponics® more accessible to vulnerable communities throughout Jamaica.

New Staff

In August, we welcomed Sean Patrick and Rachel Clarke to our INMED Caribbean team. Sean Patrick will fill the role of Regional Technical Officer for INMED Caribbean’s Adaptive Agriculture and Aquaponics Program. A Marine Biology major, Sean has done extensive work in the aquaculture sector, working as an integral part of its rejuvenation in Jamaica over the last several years.  His work as a business consultant, providing support for startups and other SMEs makes him the ideal candidate for his role, providing technical and business support to the small farmers as they adopt the INMED Aquaponics® technology.  

Rachel Clarke is joining INMED Caribbean as Project Administrator. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences from Adelphi University in New York. She is an operations management and customer service professional with a wealth of experience in the healthcare field. Before joining INMED Caribbean, Clarke was the Executive Assistant at the Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital, where she spearheaded the management and coordination of programs, projects and educational conferences.

New Backyard System

Our aquaponics experts have designed a small backyard starter system to offer a less expensive alternative to the commercial-size system, with a smaller footprint and mobility, ideal for urban and suburban settings. This will allow more home gardeners the ability to bolster their food security and income-generation opportunities. The system is under development and will be introduced later this year.

New Virtual Outreach

INMED Caribbean is planning virtual tours of our commercial systems at CASE (College of Agriculture and Science Education) and throughout Clarendon for socially distant demonstration and training opportunities. Our team also is expanding on our existing online training course to integrate our classroom workshops.

New Partnerships

We’re developing a new partnership framework with RADA (Rural Agriculture Development Agency) and Jamaica’s Social Development Commission to support our new community systems in Clarendon--specifically for assistance with production (RADA) and cooperative governance (SDC), while we provide technical support with business operations and market development (part of the newest US Embassy grant we just received).

Our team also is in planning discussions with the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) Trust/NTA institution about establishing an aquaponics system at its training center. INMED Aquaponics® dovetails nicely with the institution’s new agri-business incubator. HEART is a leading provider of technical vocational education and training in Jamaica and will increase INMED’s capacity to reach more youth and average citizens who are interested in agri-enterprise.

For more information about these exciting developments, please contact Kristin Callahan, INMED Chief Operating Officer, at kcallahan@inmed.org.

Sean Patrick, Regional Technical Officer
Sean Patrick, Regional Technical Officer
Rachel Clarke, Project Administrator
Rachel Clarke, Project Administrator
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Farmers tend their new system in Alston
Farmers tend their new system in Alston

In our last update, INMED Caribbean was completing the last of five aquaponics systems for vulnerable communities in Clarendon, Jamaica. The region’s agriculture sector has been severely degraded by floods, landslides, drought and wild fires—threatening the food security and livelihoods of roughly 69,000 individuals.   

An official hand-over event was held at one INMED Aquaponics™ system in the Alston District of Clarendon. It was already lush with crops nearly ready for harvest. Representatives from Jamaica’s Adaptation Programme and FinancingMechanism (AP&FM), which financed the project as part of the country’s Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), as well as members of parliament, national and local community development groups, Peace Corps volunteers working in the communities, and local farmers and their families, joined INMED to celebrate the opportunity for food security, skills development, employment and climate resilience afforded by aquaponics.

The hand-off was in the nick of time. Just five days later, Jamaica reported the first case of coronavirus. As the newly trained aquaponics farmers have been feeding their communities during the pandemic, INMED Caribbean has been developing virtual training resources to supplement technical assistance and ensure the cooperatives are equipped for success.

Read a news article about this project: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20200305/earth-today-clarendon-communities-get-help-face-down-climate-change

Meanwhile our team at INMED Caribbean is working with the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) to develop a training curriculum for its adaptive agriculture students being trained on its new INMED Aquaponics™ systems. The large aquaponics systems, partially financed by the Sandals Foundation, will be the cornerstone of the college’s adaptive agriculture program and will serve approximately 215 CASE students and 500 female farmers islandwide annually.

Each system, which has the capacity to produce roughly 4,000 lbs. of sh and up to 30,000 lbs. of vegetables annually, will also supplement the school’s meals program.

Read a news article about this project: http://www.loopjamaica.com/content/new-aquaponics-unit-strengthens-sustainable-agriculture-output-case

If you would like to help INMED Caribbean develop virtual resources to reach more potential aquaponics farmers, please support this project.

 

 

Ribbon cutting to hand over Clarendon systems
Ribbon cutting to hand over Clarendon systems
Clarendon schoolchildren check out fish tank
Clarendon schoolchildren check out fish tank
Project team celebrates launch of CASE systems
Project team celebrates launch of CASE systems
CASE growbeds are ready for seedlings
CASE growbeds are ready for seedlings
Healthy greens = food security
Healthy greens = 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
$9,202 raised of $15,000 goal
 
226 donations
$5,798 to go
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