Aquaponics in countries of the MENA region –
Potential, Progress, Obstacles, Challenges..
All over the World, we face the same problems, in developing countries in particular:
Additional to this we face following problems:
Therefore, it is imperative to find resource preserving methods as alternative for classic agriculture. Producing fresh and healthy food locally "From the region for the region”.
Local Indoor Farming Units, using i.e. Aquaponics, are a realistic option and already mature.
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an Aquaponics system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is than recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all Aquaponics systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an Aquaponics system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline. [Source: Wikipedia]
The idea for Aquaponics is to demonstrate the possibilities to produce vegetables and simultaneously fish. Providing fresh and unloaded food for those in need locally. Aquaponics is a closed system to produce vegetables and fish in a self-contained system. As in this system no soil is needed, the system can be set up nearly anywhere. Water-saving with no additional fertilization for healthy and valuable food. High volume of fresh-food in a small space using as minimal resources. The aim is to reduce the reliance on imported food rations e.g. for feeding programs in developing countries. Providing higher quality, more nutritional food locally. Additional to that the chance to create new businesses and consequently creating jobs locally. In combination with “green tourism” it could be fruitful add-on.
For the completion of an Aquaponics-system, additional Renewable technologies should come into operation to make the whole System independent from the grid and other energy sources to the greatest possible extent.
The existing technologies of Aquaponics systems are already mature and well known in countries like the USA and Australia. Aquaponics-Systems are transferable to all countries all over the world. Especially in countries with water shortages, like in the MENA region, AP-systems are an alternative to conventional agriculture.
Additional to this, Aquaponics-systems could be a good add-on in tourist centers to provide the people with fresh and healthy food directly where the need is.
Content (the “why?”):
In different countries a huge number of people have no access to fresh, healthy and unloaded food. They are starving and have no chance to change their general living conditions.
Fresh vegetables need to be imported with a high energy requirement for transport, from somewhere on this globe. Resulting in high costs. Aquaponics systems shall demonstrate how to produce on a
small area fresh and healthy food the whole year with manageable investment. Decentralized directly where the need is.
Additional to that Aquaponics-lighthouse projects will provide interest people with training and education directly on site. The idea is to help the people to help themselves. To create jobs and to train trainers to support similar projects, smaller units, directly on-site in the whole country.
Goals / Tasks:
Like always, when we are talking about a “new technology”, especially when high first investments are required, the sustainability of this technologies need to be proved.
Especially with regard to economic aspects.
Therefore lighthouse projects are needed to prove the technology locally, with a high grade of local content. As there are no real “plug & play solutions” out there. Lighthouse- or pilot-projects are needed to follow the learning curve. Pilot-projects are meant to try different technologies under local conditions. The gained experiences serves as basis for subsequent commercial size projects, to run an indoor farm economically from the beginning.
In some countries in the MENA region some Aquaponics-trials are already done. Most of them just as a hobby demonstration project i.e. in Egypt, or huge turnkey solutions in rich countries like UAE. Are this projects sustainable? Viable in the long term? Without following the learning curve? We doubt that.
Andreas Woell, Prof.h.c. Dipl.-Ing. (FH)
GM of ANSI-Culture Consultants UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
Founder and GM of ANSI-Culture Consultants UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
Successful in upper management positions and as director of national and international projects in the field of renewables, energy efficiency etc. for more than 25 years. Confident in exercising roles such as Managing Director, Technical Director and Vice President.
Expert knowledge in renewables, energy efficiency, energy conservation measures and aquaponics.
The project, which had aroused his curiosity about indoor farming, was the desert forest project in Qatar, several years ago.
National and International networks in the core area “Renewables” supplemented by network in the area of “Aquaponics”.
His mission statement:
"Do you want to make a plan for a year, plant rice. Do you want to make a plan for a decade, plant trees. Do you want to make a plan for a century, educate people."
(Zhuang Zi 369-270 v.Chr.)