Mary Mkithika (age 49) is a paraplegic aquaponics farmer at the Lentsweleng co-operative in Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa. New to the agriculture sector, she loves farming with all her heart. “I may not be able to walk, but I can produce,” Mkithika says proudly.
INMED Aquaponics® has transformed the lives of nearly 100 disabled farmers since it was implemented in the Free State province. People of all ages who were once marginalised and stigmatised and are now running thriving agro-businesses with the help of the INMED Aquaponics® Social Enterprise.
“Aquaponics is not only climate-change adaptive, but is also is highly accommodating to individuals with disabilities,” says Mkithika. It has allowed her to become self-sufficient for the first time in her life. She spent many years beading people’s hair but was never able to earn a stable income. “It was difficult to apply for a disability grant as I didn’t have an ID,” says Mkithika. “And nobody wanted to hire me because of my disability.”
Mkithika is now helping to train other women in her community so that they can feed their families and earn incomes year-round with aquaponics and adaptive agriculture techniques.
“The thing we farmers love most is sharing the things we have learned with our family and community members,” says Mkithika. “Even though I can’t walk, I can produce food and make a difference – in my own life and in the lives of others.”