I was tempted to write this blog after reading a report about utilizing aquaponics to fight food scarcity in developing countries in TheGuardian.com. Now, to start-off with the basics…
Aquaponics, What Is It?
Well, in a nutshell, aquaponics is a means to produce food by combining fish and vegetables together. This is made possible with the symbiotic relationship that exists naturally between between the fish excretions, bacteria and plants.
How does it work?
Bacteria that exists naturally in the system, converts fish excretions, first into nitrite and eventually to nitrate. Plants feed on nitrate as it’s natural fertilizer that they flourish upon. So, this is a win-win marriage between the fish wastes, bacteria and the plants.
Aquaponics For Developing Countries?
Now, there has been a debate on whether aquaponics is the right approach to fight food scarcity in developing countries. Be it in a commercial scale as well as a means to provide food.
In a recent report on TheGuardian.com, Leslie Ter Morshuizen, the owner and founder of Aquaculture Innovations and Ken Konschel, founder of Aquaponics Africa, agrees that the possibilities are limitless. Ken Konschel also continued to say that he believes that aquaponics could definitely improve food security for people living in developing countries.
Tony Abuta of Amsha Africa Foundation, is also a strong advocate to aquaponics. He explained that; “Water is a precious commodity in developing nations, and because the majority of the water used is recycled through the aquaponics system, significantly less water is consumed than in traditional farming.”
What’s The Main Drawback?
Ter Morshuizen emphasized that his one concern is how aquaponic projects are managed, especially in rural communities. This is because they need to be supported continuously to succeed. The other problem highlighted by him is access to electricity. Electric supply is especially scarce in developing countries.
That’s because aquaponics systems need electricity to operate pumps required to continuously circulate the system water. This is the main criteria for the system to work. Which I agree. That’s the very basic need for aquaponics systems to operate. A means to circulate water in the system.
As far as current, you need a water pump to do that. And water pumps need electricity as the driving force to operate. In addition to that, farmers need to be close to markets to make it worth while. But so does commercial framing for that matter.
So, Can Aquaponics Fix The Problem?
Well, I belief so despite the said weaknesses, aquaponics has proven time and again to be much cost-effective than traditional farming.
“An increase in the availability of food in developing nations through the use of aquaponics would decrease the death rate, while also increasing the income of the farmer and improving the overall economy of the nation,” says Abuta.
Ter Morshuizen sums up his thoughts. “With the correct support structure aquaponics could provide huge opportunities for smallholder farmers. However, without ongoing support, these projects would be entirely unsustainable.”
You can read more about it by following clicking on this link.
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