Aquaponics refers to a food production system that couples aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish, snails or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment whereby the nutrient-rich aquaculture water is fed to hydroponically grown plant, involving nitrifying bacteria for converting ammonia into nitrates.
Just like in traditional agriculture where farmers use manure (cow waste) to fertilize their crops, Aquaponics also makes use of manure to fertilize plants. Manure used is from fish waste, since crops in an aquaponics system are only grown on water.
Tribes like the Aztecs were cultivating crops on water with fish underneath. This manner of cultivation has recently benefitted from innovations and upgrades associated with our advanced society; and, it is only in the 21st century that this method was referred to as aquaponics.
First, aquaponics uses zero pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Eating clean and pure food is a must nowadays knowing that by 2050, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men will be diagnosed with cancer. Research has shown that synthetic pesticides cause cancer.
Second, aquaponics uses 90% less water than traditional agriculture. This can be further improved when making use of rainwater harvesting systems.
Lastly, in today’s society space is at a premium. In areas of limited space for people to grow their own food, aquaponics can be implemented on rooftops which in most cases are under-utilized spaces. COVID-19 has given us a window into the benefits of self-sufficiency which can be properly addressed by aquaponics solutions.
While not necessarily a benefit, we’ve also seen the young have fun growing crops, something that is masked today with the facilities offered by supermarkets.
Aquaponics is a complex concept, and the setting up of the operations must be made with care and expertise. Any small mistakes in design and construction can result in a failed production.
On the other hand, operating an aquaponics system is very simple and kind of automatic. The end-user requires only 10 minutes of operation on a daily basis, irrespective of the scale of the project.
Chaos, confusion, and uncertainty prevailed during the COVID-19 period. This opened the door for people to be interested in matters that they took for granted before the pandemic. Agriculture is one such field.
As human beings, we’re acutely aware that our technology doesn’t protect us from acts of god, viruses, and more. What we eat is important, and it is concerning that the supply chain of food to the supermarket is pretty much hidden. This disassociates the understanding of what we think we are eating from what we are actually eating.
Aquaponics is one solution to eating clean and pure food.
Ecorganics Co Ltd was founded in 2017, after years of extensive R&D in the field by Mr. Narain, who is today the No.1 Aquaponics Expert in the Indian Ocean. Its mission was to commercialize and make systems and products available to Mauritians based on Mr. Narain’s research. The goal is to help the Mauritian market get clean and pure food in a sustainable manner.
We want to see Mauritius as a country where clean and pure food is easily available using smarter and eco-friendly agricultural techniques. We are confident that such a situation will have a positive impact on the Tourism sector as well and boost the economy.
Our mission is more than run a company, it is also to help Mauritius rely more on local expertise rather than international interventions, thus reducing unemployment and reducing imports. In this light, we spend a lot of time and effort to promote agri-entrepreneurship, especially amongst the Youth of Mauritius.
In order of priority:
The following is a list of our CSR activities:
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, with the goal of promoting self-sufficiency and helping the citizens of Mauritius grow their own food, we have earmarked Rs1,15M as CSR funds to provide Rs15,000, Rs7,500, and Rs5,000 discount on the purchase of home aquaponics systems to 50, 40 and 20 families respectively.
Each farm requires the following:-
You need to ensure adequate aerate and water circulation. This means you should use water and air pumps to make sure that the water has high levels of dissolved oxygen and good water movement so that your animals, bacteria, and plants are healthy. Remember: Electricity costs are a significant portion of the system budget so choose the pumps and power source wisely, and consider photovoltaic power, if possible.
Water is the life-blood of an aquaponic system. It is the medium through which all essential nutrients are transported to the plants, and it is where the fish live. Five key water quality parameters are important to monitor and control: dissolved oxygen (5 mg/litre), pH (6–7), temperature (18–30 °C), total nitrogen, and water alkalinity. Remember: The water chemistry may seem complicated, but the actual management is relatively simple with the help of common test kits.
Your aquaponic system will be easier to manage and will be insulated against shocks and collapse if the stocking density is kept low. The recommended stocking density is 20 kg/1 000 litres, which will still allow for substantial plant growing area. Remember: Higher stocking densities can produce more food in the same space, but will require much more active management.
Wastes and uneaten food are very harmful for aquatic animals because they can rot inside the system. Rotting food can cause disease and can use up all of the dissolved oxygen. Remember: Feed the animals every day, but remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes and adjust the next day’s portion accordingly.
Plant vegetables with short grow-out periods (salad greens) between plants with longer-term crops (eggplant). Continued replanting of tender vegetables such as lettuce in between large fruiting plants provides naturally shaded conditions. Remember: In general, leafy green plants do extremely well in aquaponics along with some of the most popular fruiting vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
Using a batch cropping system can help keep a steady harvest of both aquatic animals and vegetables to keep a consistent production level and maintain a constant balance between fish and plants. Remember: A secure source of young plants and young fish is important, so make sure that the supply is considered during the planning phase.
First, we take payback as the time it takes that the capital expenditure outlay for the build of the farm to be repaid by assuming revenue one could make based on current pricing to the supermarket (or other).
Since we have several types of farms the payback periods for each will vary.
For a full report of cashflow, see our brochure here. Note that the above is based on Ecorganics Co Ltd’s products and services only.
Projections are forward-looking statements that may or may not occur. They are also based on assumptions that may or may not be accurate. As such, we can’t be responsible for reliance on the below; these figures are provided to you as a helpful guide to what we think is reasonable.
We calculated a number of scenarios based on our current understanding of the market as follows. Note that these are specifically for Mauritius and assuming that a market exists for the trades.
250sqm Aquafarm. Revenue:- Rs2.779M/p.a., Rs727.8k.
300sqm Aquafarm. Revenue:- Rs3.335M/p.a., Rs838k.
500sqm Aquafarm. Revenue:- Revenue:- Rs5.559M/p.a., Rs1.455M.
1,000sqm Aquafarm. Revenue:- Rs11.119M/p.a., Rs2.545M.
For a full report of the financial projections, see our brochure here. Note that the above is based on Ecorganics Co Ltd’s products and services only.
There are a variety of materials that you can use to build your aquaponics solution. These are the material we now use.
We assume that only lettuce is being planted, tilapia is being farmed and a tariff of Rs10.1 per KWh. We also assume vegetables and fish at current retail prices.
Our home solutions come as a 6mx2m (12sqm) or a 3mx3m (9sqm) build. The variation in the return on investment actually depends on the material used in the build. This is at the election of the customer, for durability, or aesthetic reasons.
IBC and Metal. The return on investment is approximately 2.285 years.
Fiberglass and Metal. The return on investment is approximately 2.463 years.
For a full report of the financial projections, see our brochure here.