Provides source for double income through fish and vegetables farming in single unit
Mr. Vijayakumar Narayanan, aquaponics futurist specializes in growing fish and vegetables simultaneously. At 40 he turns into an aquaponic consultant after serving at various organizations for 20 years across the country and gulf. Maths graduate and psychology postgraduate, Mr. Narayanan hit upon aquaponics four years before when he returned home, Nanniyode village in Palakkad district in Kerala precisely in 2012. He shares, “At my home, a big tree was uprooted in the backyard garden leaving behind large hole in the ground. In order to use the pit to best of the advantage I took up intense search on internet. After few months the solution came as aquaponics.”
Aquaponics is a unique blend of aquaculture and hydroponics. Water rich in fish waste is used for growing vegetables without using any soil. It is an organic method where there is no need for any chemical based farming inputs.
It can be started as a hobby to meet household needs in just half cent (218 sq ft) of space. It shall cost about Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000. Initially to start half cent area requires 500 kg fish in 10,000 litres water. Commercial projects surely mean increase in the numbers with respect to investment and quantities of produce. 4 cents of space is needed for commercial operations. It calls for the investment of Rs. 1.50-1.75 Lakh, 50,000 litres of water and 5,000 kg fish to begin the project. “Returns on investment will be attained in first six months from fish and vegetable harvest,” assures Mr. Narayanan. He shares some more statistics of aquaponic project-
Aquaponics Hobbyist: Grows 500 kg fish and up to 1000 kg vegetables.
Large Commercial Aquaponics Enterprise for profit (high): Grows >1000 kg fish per annum and more than 1000 kg vegetables.
When asked to explain how fish and vegetables grow concurrently he says, “There is fish pond which is connected to the grow beds. The grow beds have sheets of gravel laid on the banks of the pond where plants are grown. There are two pumps in the unit, first pump blows air into the pond while the other pump is used for pumping water from the fish pond into the gravel. These pumps need to run continuously. Water in the pond is rich in ammonia due to fish waste. Ammonia in water gets converted into nitrites and nitrates through bacterial action making it crucial for plant growth.
Tilapia and carp are the ideal fish varieties grown in this system. However it is also possible to grow cat fish, prawns, sea bass, mullet and fresh water mussels. After the installation, fish feed is only one the main cost incurred that too can be reduced by using natural feed such as rice bran, coconut and groundnut oil cakes. Mr. Narayanan suggests the farmer to grow azolla in their farm. It shall reduce the cost of fish feed ((total farming cost for azolla comes to only Re 1/kg) and azolla being rich in protein leads to speedy and healthy growth of fish. It can be used as 50% of the total fish feed.
Fish feed is supplied daily in feeding sachets kept at one corner of the pond. It is recommended to start with small quantities and increase it slowly over 2 weeks. At 2 months, feed quantity is 1.5 kg feed in the morning and 1 kg in the evening. Feeding sachets are the poly-ethylene air-tight sacks, examined daily for molds or fungus formation.
This system can be used for growing few selected veggies namely leafy vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, spinach, mint along with tomato, okra, sweet potatoes and egg plants. Mr. Narayanan adds, “Farmer will get three harvests of leafy green vegetables in six months. As it is soilless cultivation only fear is of airbore pests that could be managed using bio insecticides like tobacco juice.” He claims, “Aquaponics shall surely lead to the earning of Rs 4 lakh/ year. This figure can exceed too.”
In coming months Mr. Narayanan shall be working on two commercial projects of aquaponics, one for Leela group in Kovalam, South India and for second he moves to Ludhiana, North India. But the most unique project he is set to work is cleaning river Ganga using aquaponics. He elaborates, “Ganga water is already nutrient rich water. We are going to use this water to grow greens and other vegetables. There will be floating grow beds, floating rocks and we will also plant water hyacinth inside the water. It shall be first of the project to clean river water using aquaponic techniques. The process is still is under discussion.”
Mr. Narayanan organizes seminars, runs classes and offers consultancy for commercial projects on aquaponics at his Nanniode Aquaponics Research and Development Centre (NARDC). He also writes the blog http://nanniodeaquaponics.blogspot.in/ and maintains the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/aquaponicsfuturist for the facts, information and updates on aquaponics.
Nanniode Aquaponics Research and Development Centre (NARDC)
#678534 Nanniode, Palakkad, Kerala
Phone +91 81292 19282