Things are not always predictable and once in a while or rather quite often, the unexpected happens and food supply systems (especially fresh vegetables) can easily be disrupted, increasing the vulnerability of city dwellers. COVID 19 outbreak is a glaring example and so is the socio-political crisis in the English-speaking part of Cameroon. For the past few years, the population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yaoundé has continued to rise putting pressure on food systems and jobs.
We at Research and Development Without Borders have sought innovative ways of bringing small-scale agricultural activities to the cities for livelihoods and food security. Aquaponics appear to be a promising solution.
Aquaponics is simply the integration of fish farming and the growing of vegetables in water. Global trends are in favour of smart cities and urban dwellers will gain a great deal by using marginal land to grow veggies and keep fish. Here’re some extra advantages:
- You are neither going to invest in manure nor pesticides so those who have a graving for organic food will be thrilled.
- Water could be economized because it is not a conventional garden where the water supplied is lost by absorption to the ground.
- You can set up your system on land that cannot be used for any other farming activity
A lot could be saved from transportation by setting up the farm in the backyard.
Now that we have successfully run a pilot aquaponics system, we believe that it is time to make it known and adopted by city dwellers. Our model is straightforward: train, equip and market.
- We are training mini-scale farmers and hobby gardeners on setting up and managing simple aquaponic systems. The training program covers fish species and market opportunities; taking care of fish; basic fish health; basic plant health; and finally Good practices for hydroponics (growing plants in water). Learn more
- For those who can afford the system, we are assisting them to build their system for a symbolic fee. However, for those who are honestly not able to build the system due to a pre-accessed vulnerability, we are seeking alternative sources of funds to subvention the construction of their system
Small farmers are going to have problems accessing premium markets so we are bulking, washing and packaging aquaponic-produced veggies from our trainees to guarantee better market access.