Aquaculture in Artas
Maximising the use of limited space and water resources through integration of sustainable, manure fertilised aquaculture projects in irrigation cisterns
Artas is a small agricultural village just a few valleys away from our base in Beit Sahour. One thing which sets Artas apart from many Palestinian villages is that it is blessed with a permanent spring, which has nourished the farmland with ample fresh water since the Iron Age. The water resource provided by the spring is shared by the farming community in a manner which has remained unchanged for genarations: The spring feeds into a canal which passes through the whole valley; farmers in the valley have access to the spring water on a rotational basis, usually for about 12 hours every 10 days, which they control by small sluice gates in the canal. Each farmer has a cistern on their land which they fill up with this water, and then use this stored water to irrigate their fields the rest of the time.
Over the last couple of years, Bustan Qaraaqa has built up a relationship with several farmers in Artas through a variety of activities including tree planting and sustainable design consultancy. We were able to further develop this relationship by implementing a project to develop sustainable aquaculture in irrigation cisterns in Artas. This project has been funded in part by Bustan Qaraaqa, and in part by individual and corporate donations.
We started this project in August 2010; conducting socioeconomic interviews, collecting water quality and water use data, and desigining a management schedule for cisterns used for aquaculture. We also prepared and delivered a series of workshops during Autumn 2010, and were able to bring 600 common carp Cyprinus carpio to Artas from the Dor research facility in Israel during early November 2010. These fish were distributed between six particpants’ cisterns, and have been growing since then.
Since stocking the fish we have conducted a few follow up vists to ensure that everything is running smoothly; most recently we delivered fish traps to participants so that they may capture some fish and check them for health and growth. We shall be visiting fairly regularly over the next couple of months as some of the larger fish should be fairly close to harvest size. We will also try to ensure that conditions will be right to encourage reproduction in the spring so that the project can not only sustain itself, but also provide fingerlings with which other farmers can replicate the idea.