KOCHI: At a time when the new generation is obsessed with the latest gadgets or whiling away time on social media, a group of youngsters in the city is finding joy in promoting pesticide-free vegetable farming in households viz aquaponics. Abin A B, Nikhil K Shaji, Adhil Rahman and Shibin Shaju who are students of Bharata Mata College, Thrikkakara, along with Pramod Mohan who is the brain behind the initiative are helping people establish aquaponic plants in their households for a fee. The five-member team ‘Aqua Agricare’ based in Thrikkakkara collects the vegetables grown by these households and sells them to nearby apartments and houses.
“This idea to start the venture cropped up in 2015, after my grandmother passed away after suffering from cancer. We realised the need to supply pesticide-free vegetables to the public. We ourselves collect the vegetables from the dealers and supply it to the buyers based on their orders,” said Nikhil.
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, which involves growing fish and other aquatic animals, while hydroponics involves growing plants without soil. In aquaponics, plants are fed the discharge or waste from aquatic animals. Microbes play an important role in giving nutrition to plants. These beneficial bacteria gather in the spaces between the roots of the plant and convert the fish waste and solid into substances the plants can grow. The result is a perfect collaboration between aquaculture and gardening, the members say. The expense for setting up the aquaponics farm is not very high as it only needs two tanks- one lower tank for the aquarium and the upper tank for farming along with motors.
“We have set up the aquaponic system in more than 50 places including actor Sreenivasan’s house. We are supplying around 120 kg vegetables per month in various houses. We are not charging much profit for setting up a plant,” said Abin, another member.