Video: Oman's first aquaponics farm to promote organic produce
March 18, 2018 | 5:03 PM
by Times News Service

Aquaponics, or the combination of fish farming with vegetable cultivation, is fast catching up among farmers worldwide. The growing of fish and plants together in one integrated system is now being considered to be the future of agriculture, and Oman too has joined the league.

Photos by Shabin E.

Al Arfan is the first-of-its kind aquaponics farm in Oman that was recently inaugurated in Barka under the auspices of Dr Fuad bin Jaafar Al Sajwani, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

“It’s the biggest farm of its kind in the Sultanate. It covers both fisheries and agriculture. It also uses the latest technology to produce fish and vegetables of high quality, without pesticides or chemicals,” he said.

Al Arfan is the first-of-its kind aquaponics farm in Oman that was recently inaugurated in Barka. Photos by Shabin E.

The produce of the farm is organic, and it has provided significant progress towards conserving resources, especially water. “It is all organic. Also, it uses very little water, compared to other farms. It saves 93% of its water, compared to conventional farms. So it is a big step for us.

Photos by Shabin E.

“It adds to the local market with the production of high quality fish and vegetables. We think it will be a good addition to the economy of the country,” he added.

Explaining what aquaponic is and how it is carried out in Barka, Arvind Venkataraman, an advisor for Al Arfan, said, “Aquaponics is the coming together of fish culture in running water, coupled with plants grown on the water that was filtered from the fish tank. We feed the fish in the tank, they breathe out phosphates and we get a chemically pure form of ammonia. After the filtration is completed, it passes through a water-based system where plants are directly immersed.”

Photos by Shabin E.

Echoing what Fuad Al Sajwani said about the conservation of water, Venkataraman noted, “We use only 10% of the water. When we collected data for one area of production, there is a 93% saving. Especially in a water-scare environment like the Middle East, it is very important to have a water conserving mentality.”

He added that there is an increasing demand in the market for organic food, as people have slowly started realising the benefits of organic produce and eating healthy. “People are becoming more health conscious. It is only after we get affected that people realise the value of food. Instead of spending a dime more on the food you eat, you end up spending more on the medications you use to cure yourself.

“People realise that just by improving their eating habits, by eating clean, pesticide-free foods, they can circumvent all of those problems,” he said.

Photos by Shabin E.

Currently, most of the organic food available in the market is imported. If more investors and producers start harvesting and growing organic food locally, then it would prove to be more efficient.

“There are many choices, but they are mostly imported options. There is that knowledge now in the market, and people want more organic foods.

“And you can produce this for one-third more than you can import it from other countries, and this adds to the food security as well,” he added.

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