I’ve recently found myself involved in a project proposal drafting with Brazilian researchers and agriculturalists with Embrapa Meio Norte of Brazil. One of the researchers found me on the website for Africa-Brazil Agricultural Marketplace networking my interest in working with researchers in the area of aquaponics. Aquaponic farming, as I discussed in a previous post, is a the raising of fish with the purpose of using their effluent (waste) as nutriment for the growth of plant life. So when this researcher found me and asked me to assist in the grant drafting, I was more than excited. Him and his team have crafted a holistic system or what they call an Integrated Food System that is based on the actual aquaponic tank and accompanying vegetation. In addition, they rear worms on the plant beds, where they assist in augmenting healthy bacteria growth and in addition they make compost for soil based crops. Along with this system is the rearing of various farm animals resulting in an overall increase of food production.
The purpose of the Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace is to link Brazilian researchers that are innovating in agriculture with scientists and researchers in Africa that seek to find ways to improve farming conditions in their homes. Fund will be provided to selected projects in the area of technology sharing, trainings, and development. My husband and I initially wanted to find researchers in his home country of Senegal that would be interested in doing the project with Luiz and his team so that maybe we could be a part of the process out there. But, as it has evolved, we have decided that the project would serve any locale in which food production is an issue. The Sahel, which Senegal is a part of, is a very dry and challenging place for farm production given farmers’ dependence on short seasonal rain. We have finally decided on a partner for the project from Niger, a poor Sahel country experiencing many challenges. Aquaponics is a very water efficient farm technology that involves very low consumption of water, is soil-less and can be operated on solar power. The proposal we are drafting emphasizes all of these things and how perfect aquaponics could be for the Sahel.
Though we are still in the first phase, we are hopeful about the outcome and look forward to bringing aquaponics and the integrated food system to any place that can benefit from the technology.