Aquaponics has been gaining considerable attention lately in the farming industry as a sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce food. It consists of a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system and a mutually beneficial cycle – that is, in a symbiotic environment.
Wastes from fish which decompose into nitrates and ammonia are used as a fertiliser for the plants and the latter purify the water by removing the substances which are harmful to the animals. Unlike traditional farming methods, chemical fertilisers are not used to boost plant growth.
Aquaponics can be the key to tackling the diverse challenges we may face in the future: climate change, soil depletion, food shortage, water scarcity, fossil fuel shortages and an exponential population growth.
Problems associated with the lack of space and cultivable land are eliminated, thus preventing deforestation. As a result, forests, the lungs of the planet, are preserved and can keep on absorbing the world’s carbon dioxide and curbing the warming effects of greenhouse gases. In addition, since space is not an issue, anyone can create their own aquaponics ecosystem! Urban farming is facilitated as a result and the greenhouse emissions produced by conventional agriculture, through the use of fossil fuels in the transportation and production processes, are significantly reduced. For example, the environmental costs associated with the long-distance transportation of chemical fertilisers are eliminated.
On the other hand, aquaponics does have associated energy costs with running the system (pumps, aerators, and/or heaters). However, implementing the systemwith solar and wind energy could potentially counterbalance them.
Thus, it can be seen that the implementation of such systems is in line with the 2030 SDGs of the United Nations – especially contributing to climate action. Aquaponics not only represent an effective way to provide healthy food to communities but also reduces the ecological footprint of agriculture and contributes to economic growth.
Loreto College Curepipe has conducted through the Education for sustainable development program, numerous projects/activities to raise students’ awareness on the importance of sustainability.
The implementation of the rainwater harvesting system by the school’s environment club has been greatly efficient at putting an end to water shortage at school. Additionally, the project ‘Zero tolerance to pet bottles’ has been conducted in the college to reduce the school ecological footprint. Campaigns were done at school with the help of ‘mission Verte’ and special bins were provided for the separation of wastes. Another step taken by LCC is the creation of the vertical garden. Students learnt that vertical gardens maximize the use of limited space, and that the plants also improve indoor and outdoor air quality. The Permaculture project has also been implemented at LCC in view of sensitizing the students about the importance of an ecologically sound way of living in their homes, gardens and communities. The latest project which LCC has realized is the setting up of the endemic garden where students learnt about the importance of preserving endemic plants, and thus respecting the land biodiversity.
At Loreto College Curepipe, we teach our students that WE are all One society and is part of a global ecosystem. We strongly believe that students should be exposed to interactive learning in order to develop essential aptitudes such as critical thinking, system thinking, collaborative learning and community work. In Nature students took time for stillness, appreciate the calmness and the peaceful atmosphere. By connecting with nature and interacting with the flora and fauna students develop a sense of belonging to the Earth and hence they found themselves responsible to protect.
Learning about the nature during eco-trips.
Interaction with Nature helps them to develop a strong connection with Mother Earth and understands that whatever action they take it will have an impact on the earth. We show them the consequences of climate change in Mauritius so that when they join the professional world they can be change agents.
Besides all these projects mentioned above, we believe that introducing aquaponics at LCC will greatly motivate students to develop critical skills hence getting them engaged in positive solutions for a sustainable future.
Being a simple, low-cost food production method, the aquaponics system can be set up by poor people. Above all, this system is relatively space-saving and appropriate for the poor considering that most of them do not have a lot of space available. Another advantage for needy people is that this system uses up to 90 percent less water than conventional gardens as the water used is recycled. This could be advantageous for the needy people as they won’t have to incur massive water costs.
The aquaponics system can help fight poverty in two ways:
- Poverty and poor health are inextricably linked. Very often, poor people put their health at risk as they do not have enough money to buy food or even eat a healthy diet. With the aquaponics system they can use the fish and vegetables for their own consumption. So this is a way for poor people to secure adequate food especially in Mauritius where food is expensive.
- In a second scenario, one can decide to make a living out of it by producing on a much larger scale. So fish and produce generated can be sold, thus providing an income for the poor.
Mauritius fish stocks are being overexploited but the demand for fish is ever-growing. Aquaponic farming is the ideal solution to show an alternative and more responsible way of producing fish and crops to children in our community.
Aquaponics leads to more responsible production in various ways:
- Less water is required than for the production of conventional crops.
- No fertilisers or chemicals are needed. Fish wastes will be the source of nitrogenous compounds for the crops.
- It is a method of urban farming giving rise to local food production.
Students, with the help of school staff, will be able to produce and consume their own fish and crops. This project will also make students more aware of the critical importance of responsible production and consumption. Hopefully, by being involved in this project today, our future young entrepreneurs might use it as a business model later on.
Using aquaponics as an educational tool, the teacher can teach valuable science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts.
- This can inspire students with ideas that can benefit humanity. Using aquaponics in education may serve the dual purpose of preparing future practitioners, as well as giving students the opportunity for active learning.
- Aquaponics is an ideal platform for teaching and learning because of its inter-disciplinary nature, required technological skill set and applications to real world issues.
- It also enhances learning, convey new ideas and actively engage students.
- Similarly it may be viewed as a living teaching tool as it can be used to grow living organisms in an educational setting especially for the application of academic subjects, hands-on learning and connections to global trends including food and agriculture.
Millions of people around the world doesn’t have enough food to support themselves or their family. According to the UN SDGs 2030, ending with hunger and ensuring access by all people, particularly the poor and people in the vulnerable situation, we strongly believe that aquaponics gardening can be a good tool to reach the targeted goal.
- Aquaponics gardening is a simple way to grow your own food, hence to feed the family at a low cost.
- Growing simultaneously plants and fish without fertilizers leading to a “zero hunger” future generation.
“Aquaponics system will go a long way towards helping us achieve our goal of giving families from at-risk communities’ access to fresh. Healthy and nutrious foods- a key pillar of our Health in action program’ Sarah Delea, President of the Mondelez International Foundation.
- Nowadays there is more and more generic good and vegetables found in stores that contain so many chemicals which are harmful to health.
- Use of pesticides or herbicides is harmful to human health.
- Aquaponically grown vegetables are safe to eat as well the fish as the cultivation and harvesting conditions are known.
Sustainable economic growth will pave for societies to generate the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs, stimulating the economy while not harming the environment.
According token Konschel, project founder of Aquaponics Africa “Fish grow their own food, so the system is self-supporting. It can improve people’s lives in developing countries by increasing food security, employment opportunities and economic growth.
Aquaponics can lead to:
- Social inclusion
- Financial autonomy
- Self-worth and dignity
- Decent standard of living
- Skills and knowledge.
- Quality jobs that are particularly needed in areas where most of the poor live.
- Help people gain self-worth and dignity by creating decent work.
- Generate income and hence alleviate financial problems.
Aquaponics can be referred as “urban food sustainability”
As the fish grow their own food, so the system is self-supporting. Unlike traditional agricultural method of crop and fish production which requires thousands of acre of land and water consumption, aquaponics technique uses less land surface and uses up to 90% less water and produces up to 10% more crops.
- Little electric power consumption
- Reduce environmental damage of topsoil
- Reduce over-fishing
- Promote long term urban food sustainability.
- Reduce the ecological foot print.