Aquaponics farming gaining ground in Brunei

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (The Brunei Times/ANN) - Aquaponics is a farming system that combines aquaculture (the raising of fish) and hydroponics (soil-less growing of plants) in one integrated system that is self-sustaining.

The use of aquaponics system of farming provides an opportunity for Bruneians especially those residing in rural areas to cultivate multiple products simultaneously without the use of large areas of land, according to the Farm Manager of Food Jungle.

Aquaponics is a farming system that combines aquaculture (the raising of fish) and hydroponics (soil-less growing of plants) in one integrated system that is self-sustaining.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Jeff Ong said that aquaponics is a complex form of farming that creates an ecosystem where the two ‘products’ help one another to grow.

He said that with aquaponics, the products that are cultivated are organic as the waste produced by the fishes are used to provide the growing plants with nutrients and at the same time, the plants provide a natural filter and oxygen for the fishes.

“I think  that communities that reside near forests can benefit from this system as it is a self sustainable form of farming (however) they have to make use of the natural landscapes such as ponds or any small natural bodies of water,” he said.

He added that these communities will benefit from these systems especially considering their traditional knowledge of their respective natural environment such as the types of vegetables to grow and the types of fishes to raise.

“When it comes to aquaponics, to an extent you have to play mix and match as different species of fishes can benefit different types of vegetables (so) knowledge of these factors are crucial,” he said.

Ong, who consults and develops aquaponics system for clients, gave an example of a natural aquaponics system which divides the use of a natural pond into two tiers, the top and bottom of the pond.

“On top of the pond you can have a floating raft where you can grow floating plants like kangkung (water spinach) and of course within the pond itself will be the fishes (so) from this they can already have two forms of food sources,” he said.

“The bottom of the pond can be used to create compost for the plants (and) if they have poultry, a chicken coop can be built near enough to the pond so the waste can go into the water promoting algae growth that will feed the fish,” he added.

Ong acknowledged the difficulty in using aquaponics systems for commercial production as an individual will need to figure out the suitable ratio of fish to plants and vice versa.

However, he added that its ability to turn waste into a resource has a lot of potential towards promoting self-sustainable agriculture.

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