Aquaponics hold potential to revolutionise agriculture

16 Jun 2017 08:40am
WINDHOEK, 16 JUN (NAMPA) - The landscape of urban vegetable gardening can soon be a reality for communities to produce their own food from even a tiny spot in a backyard through aquaponics.
The concept or method of aquaponics is an environmentally friendly alternative to soil-based agriculture and was put to test by Namibia Future Farming (NFF) as a means to combat unemployment, poverty and malnutrition.
An aquaponics system is a self-sustainable microclimate or mini water cycle that needs little input from the producer, as less water is lost than through the conventional ways of agriculture that require fertile soil.
The water used in the system is stored in a fish tank from where the liquid is pumped to the roots of the plants that unlike conventional agriculture is amongst rocks and pebbles.
This closed circulation system prevents water loss through evaporation, despite the direct sunlight and heat required for the plants to grow.
The fish play an important role as their waste that is broken down by bacteria in the water is nutrition for the plants that in turn filter the water for the fish through the root system.
NFF Trustee Antje Schidlowski, told interested parties on Monday at a media briefing that any home gardener can run and manage such a system to produce vegetables for personal consumption.
“As a self-contained system, aquaponics has no footprint on the environment and does not require farmland with fertile soil or even land with soil,” Schidlowski said.
The benefit of such a system she noted is that aquaponics can be installed in any rocky, sandy or gravel area that is normally not suitable for crop farming.
Since the crops are not in touch with soil, no chemicals like pesticides or weed killers are needed, making this environmentally friendly as well as economically viable. Pesticides and chemicals would be harmful to the fish.
“Although the Namibian environment lends itself ideally for aquaponics farming, the harsh climate presented unique challenges for the NFF team,” she said.
Schidlowski said Namibia’s extreme heat during summer and the extreme cold during winter will require skills to ensure all year production.
The aquaponics system and development under the initiative is mostly financed and sponsored through the Finland Embassy’s Fund for Local Cooperation under the priority area of ‘Promotion of inclusive green economy that creates employment’.
Speaking at the same briefing, Finland’s Ambassador to Namibia Anne Saloranta said the projects is intended to contribute towards improved nutrition and nutritional self-sustenance.
Saloranta indicated that she and her husband are already at an advanced phase to finance an aquaponics system in the Omusati Region; one of many aquaponic projects at schools, lodges, communities and the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility.
Correctional Services Deputy Commissioner, Meunajo Tjiroze commended the initiative and said it not only provides vegetables to inmates but also rehabilitates them to continue farming and ensure food security in their communities when integrated back into society.