KOCHI: A young couple from Feroke, Choorakkattil Resmik and Rekha, are full of hopes and dreams as they have tried their hands at aquaponics, a novel farm technique which is not so familiar to Keralites. Apart from farm activities, what makes them busy nowadays is attending phone calls from farm enthusiasts regarding its implementation.
Aquaponics is growing fish and vegetables in an attractive and integrated system. The term aquaponics is derived from hydroponics - growing plants without soil in water, and aquaculture - fish farming. In this harmonious blend, fish fertilises the plants through its excretion. “We had heard about hydroponics earlier, but are still apprehensive about its success,” says Choorakattil Resmik, who extends his whole-hearted support to his wife in the venture.
When they thought of using the plot adjacent to their house creatively, they decided to try out aquaponics. “We could have gone for some other mode of cultivation, but we stuck to aquaponics to make it known to those who are struggling without enough land to start farming,” says Rekha.
Explicating more on the project, Rekha says, “What we have to do is to feed the fish. The bacteria within the specially arranged system will convert fish waste into nutrients fit for plants. An amount of `3 lakh has already been used to arrange the infrastructure here with the support of Vijayakumar Narayanan, who spreads awareness about the technique among Keralites.”
According to experts in the field, centuries ago, a primitive version of this farm technique was very common in South Asia. During that time, people used to plant crops on floating river islands to make use of fish waste to fertilise them.
“At present we have planted vegetables like ladies finger, brinjal and capsicum. After six months, more crops will be tried here,” she says. The couple are also planning to take up aquaponics in a commercial way. Though not all kinds of plants can be grown this way, most of the vegetables are fit for the medium. Tilapia and prawns have been stocked in a pond set up on a four cent plot.
“At a time when creative intervention is minimal in the aquaculture sector, the couple have done a great job,” says director of C STED, K V Mohammad Kunhi. “Their innovative step can be taken as an exemplary model for women who are looking forward to embarking on a profitable venture,” he says. In his words, aquaponics is appropriate for farm enthusiasts, especially in urban areas. He further says that this farm technique, which is more organic in nature, is not so common in Malabar region. According to Mohammad Kunhi, women can try the technique only with the support of an expert in the field.