Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for the day. Give him a fishing rod and feed him for life. New Israeli proverb: Give a man a fishing rod and a hydroponics farm, and you give him food and sustainable income for life.
The new Israeli proverb could be summed up in a word as aquaponics. Moti Cohen is pioneering a new spin on an old method, in Israel. His approach is a combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants on water).He’s building aquaponics farms and is consulting for agencies, such as the United Nations, on how to make aquafarms successful.
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The idea is to create a circular farm that provides people with fish and plants to eat in a closed loop. The crops feed off the waste created by the fish, while the fish thrive on the oxygen made by the crops. Both become an important source of nutrients for the people –– with no waste, fertilizer or much water needed.
The “brilliant” idea is an age-old one, Cohen says. It is just starting to see a modern revival. In ancient Asia, for instance, rice growers discovered they got better yield when fish were in the rice paddies following floods. The Aztecs, too, developed aquaponics, and there are still people around the word growing using this method, Cohen tells ISRAEL21c.
“It is an ancient method that we can bring up to speed now that we have electricity and fish ponds and great technologies to make aquaponics better than it ever has been,” he says.