AN innovative and environmentally friendly agriculture technology could provide the answer to growing food sustainably in the Pacific region.
This was revealed by Pacific Islands Trade and Invest (PT&I), the trade commission of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands last week.
Aquaponics is the mutually beneficial cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a circulating or closed system. It releases no wastewater into the environment and any loss of water from the system by transpiration or evaporation could be replaced with stored rainwater. In this regard, there is no dependence on a piped water source and because plant nutrients came from fish, the need for fertilisers is eliminated.
Doctor Wilson Lennard from Aquaponic Solutions — who has designed and built three aquaponics systems in Rarotonga which were formerly inaugurated at the Pacific Island Forum Summit last week — espoused the benefits of the innovative system.
"Rarely do we find growing techniques that increase yield without having some negative impact such as increased land clearing or chemical use," he said.
"None of this is the case with aquaponics. Aquaponics uses no herbicides, pesticides or hormones and utilises 100 per cent of the nutrients added, which makes it exceptionally efficient," he said.
PT&I trade commissioner Adam Dennis, who has worked on a Pacific-specific sustainable model with Dr Lennard for two years, said the technique was the most sustainable and eco-friendly available.
"Show me a growing solution that improves yield without clearing more land, gives me a protein and vegetable crop, uses 90 per cent less water, is environmentally sustainable and economically viable whilst reducing the need for expensive fertilisers and I'm happy to look at it," Mr Dennis said.
"Until then, I believe this may be a solution."