Cape Town entrepreneur Alan Fleming has reached the top 23 in the finals for the international Siemens Empowering People Foundation Award, which “aims to identify simple and appropriate technological solutions and to make them visible and accessible to everyone. These innovations enable the sustainable improvement in the supply of basic needs in developing countries.” The competition has received 800 entries from 90 countries. Alan’s entry was the only South African entry to reach the finals.
Alan says: “I have long been interested in aquaculture, and have worked in entrepreneurship development on the Cape Flats for 10 years. I think the combination of my work and my interest led to the development of an inner-city solution to protein production through fish farming. I am fascinated by potential solutions to the production of food inside a city’s borders, and with rising transport costs and increasing urbanisation, I believe we have to start thinking differently about food production close to the place where the vast majority of people live, and consumption occurs.”
Alan’s entry is a fish farm in a shipping container. He says: “By designing the tanks, pumps and filters into a recycled 12m container, The Fish Farm delivers a remarkably simple business opportunity capable of producing 4 tons of fish per year, (tilapia, a hardy fish ideal for novice fish farmers and a tasty fish for the table), with a nett profit of R4 000 per month. It is designed to be operated by a family, a co-operative or one or two people on a part time basis. It is profitable, affordable, repeatable, transportable, lockable and stackable.”
His first prototype is producing 2 tons of fish per year deep within the surrounding poverty of Crossroads, and the second, due to launch in October, will double that production, and run on solar power. Water consumption is minimal, as the water circulates through filters and back into the tanks. Any water that is discharged will be nutrient rich and could be used on vegetable gardens or in a vegetable aquaponics system.
“Whilst reducing pressure on our marine environment through low-carbon-footprint protein production, it creates wealth in a poor urban setting, delivering job creation, food security, sustainable cities and empowerment to youth and women.”
Alan dreams of rolling out more of these farms across the Cape Flats where he envisages a number of other industries springing into being as a result, such as worm and snail farms to feed the burgeoning container fishing industry.
Alan, one time farmer and now a director of an NGO in the Cape Flats, has been working on the design and logistics of The Fish Farm for years. He secured some funding to build the first prototype, but needs a great deal more funding for further development and roll-out of the initiative. Should Alan win the prize money, he would use it to “launch the commercial production of viable and certified containerised fish farms, which could be placed in poor communities worldwide by funders, corporates, civic organisations and government entities looking for real solutions.”
Judges will choose the first three winners for the Siemens Empowering People Foundation Award, but a “Community prize” will also be awarded for which you can cast your vote on
Good luck, Alan!