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Aquaponics addresses regional Pacific food security sustainably

October 7, 2011 | Author

The severe freshwater crisis in Tuvalu, Tokelau and American Samoa once again highlights the remote Pacific territories’ precarious food and water situation.

In places where there is little freshwater availability for drinking, cooking and household use, the question of water availability for irrigation seems pointless. Salination of freshwater in the bigger atolls of Kiribati has caused whatever little agriculture there was to nearly disappear, with entire coconut groves wilting away because of saltwater flooding.

This has increased the dependability of the islands on external food sources driving up costs in a world where food prices are already extremely high. Add to that the high costs of logistics and fuel in the region and you have prohibitively expensive food.

The innovative technique of growing produce, fruit and vegetables, called Aquaponics, perhaps offers the best solution for the twin water and food crisis in the Pacific Islands region.

Aquaponics combines principles of aquaculture and hydroponics to grow a wide variety of produce including fruit in a sustainable and economical way. Grow beds with veggies are irrigated with water from fish tanks. The water is enriched naturally by fish waste. Once used, the water is filtered and ready for use again in the fish tanks. The only loss of water, if at all, is through evaporation.

In the situation that the Pacific Islands find themselves in, with both their food security and freshwater access threatened, aquaponics offers a range of promising solutions for not only growing healthy food locally, but also economically and sustainably. Most importantly, the food grown thus is pesticide and chemical free – almost post-organic, if one may call it that.

Pacific Islands Trade & Invest has embarked on a programme to champion aquaponics in the Pacific Islands region as a solution to address the islands’ twin problems of food and water security.

 

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