Aquaponics allows farmers to breed fish and cultivate plants together cutting down on water usage, costs
A growing number of people in Cameroon are using an innovative method to integrate fish farming and plant cultivation.
The novel initiative called aquaponics has been introduced in the Central Africa nation by Flavien Kouatcha, a 31-year-old entrepreneur.
He claims this method of cultivation is “twice as efficient” as traditional agriculture methods because it saves water and bolsters the fight against global warming.
Although the method has gained worldwide popularity in recent years, it was practiced by ancient Chinese farmers who raised ducks and fish in rice paddies.
Aquaponics combine fish breeding with hydroponics, growing plants in water without soil. The plants thrive on excrement produced by fish, while the recycled and purified water goes back to the fish tanks.
“Water remains contained in the kits to baste the plants and fish, allowing them to be instantly nourished. The fish droppings are drained to the plants to feed them,” he said, adding this process uses no chemical additives.
The fish grow in the containers until they reach the size desired by their breeder and are ready for consumption, he added.
Apart from ecology, Kouatcha said he wants to address the problem of high food costs in Cameroonian markets.
He realized that there was a big problem with the transport and logistics of food in Cameroon. If food is often very expensive in the cities, it is due to the difficulty of transporting it on bumpy roads.
An aquaponic kit costs from $149 to $1,116 depending on its size. Enthusiasts can easily install a kit, which often uses vertical farming, in their backyard or rooftops — making it the ideal solution to grow food in urban centers, he said.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that aquaponics can be very useful in Africa. We want to develop much larger units. We are targeting large scales of producers based on these models,” he added.
Initially, Kouatcha and his co-founder had to mortgage their assets to fund the project. But, gradually, as popularity of the initiative rose it began to gain some financial independence.
Today, he is delighted with a growing turnover and a patent obtained from the African Intellectual Property Organization. He has achieved significant turnover and even received numerous international awards.
The proof for him that the initiative is a success lies in the growing demand for aquaponic kits across Africa.