What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a marvellous fusion of two food production systems; recirculating aquaculture, and hydroponic plant growth. The beauty of aquaponics is that a well-balanced system needs very few inputs (fish food, a small amount of water and a few Watts of electricity) to generate a significant quantity of fresh, wholesome food! What’s more is that an aquaponic system does not create a nutrient rich efluent stream (unlike high-density recirculating aquaculture), and does not rely on a concoction of chemical fertilisers (unlike regular hydroponics). In fact, aquaponic systems are fully recirculating and recycling; fish food becomes fish waste; fish waste becomes food for microbes, which break it down into natural plant fertilisers; the plants suck up these nutrients from the water, leaving the water clear and clean for the fish.
Due to its recirculating nature, an aquaponics system is extremely water efficient; an aquaponic system is also a very space efficient means of fresh food production. The surfeit of water and nutrients means that plants grow very rapidly when compared to growth in soil, and can be planted more densley as there is less competition for nutrients. Also, by removing the need for fertile ground, aquaponic systems can be constructed pretty much anywhere – even on a rooftop. It is this last point that really shows the potential utility of aquaponic systes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In general, water and space for agriculture are in short supply, and this is nowhere more apparent than in high density urban areas such as refugee camps. For the last 60 years, the 27 refugee camps in the OPT have become increasingly densley populated – now over 673,000 people live in these camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Unemployment can reach up to 80% in the camps, and with no land for agriculture or gardening it is almost impossible for residents to produce any food domestically, creating a massive dependence on external aid.
We believe that aquaponics can help this situation by providing a means to grow fresh, nutritious food even inside these concrete jungles.
For more information about aquaponics, please download our aquaponics manual.