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i'm interested mainly in the business end of aquaponics, so here are some questions that have been proposed to me over the last few years. granted my responses are going to be my personal opinions and will be open to full discussion.

 

Does being a back yard warrior of aquapopnics qualify you to give training sessions for profit?

 

depends on what you're training. if you're going to train people on how to do what you've done, then by all means train away, but if you only have a small back yard system, then you shouldn't be selling advice on things like commercial systems. although in theory they are the same things just on different scales, but one small system is a far cry away from a full scale commercial system. the general rule of thumb for me is like a pay grade,you can advise below what you're currently at, but shouldn't ethically go above what you've already accomplished.

 

the sale of unbacked, theorized production numbers as facts.

 

this is an easy one, if you haven't actually done it, you cant claim to be able to do it, so you shouldn't sell products like manuals and kits without proper record keeping and time stamped photo evidence. there's alot of people out there claiming that they can grow things in just 4 weeks from seed to harvest...  well.. unless you're talking microgreens, im not convinced...

 

and last but not least for now, and my personal favorite...

 

the exploitation of a 2nd or 3rd world countries labor force to seek proper profit margins.

 

now here me out on this one... while creating an aquaponics business in any 1st world country is looking harder and harder with the increase of a federal minimum wage, 2nd and 3rd world countries with no minimum wage base leaves the proprietor free to pay what ever they want...

 

but here's the twist.

 

lets say the average wage in the united states is around $8 per hour now, and the average  wage of some 2n or 3rd world country is $2 per day. with that being said, you start your operation in the 3rd world country where you could pay $2 a day per person for labor, but you actually pay them $4-$6 a day which is 2-3 times the national average.

 

you're still exploiting the 2nd and 3rd world standards of wage, but you're giving these people jobs that pay twice to three times as much as they would be making other wise, all the while securing you high profit margins.

 

on one hand it's socially unacceptable to exploit these people, but on the other hand it is socially acceptable to pay them a higher wage than average.

 

if anyone else has more questions of ethics having to do with aquaponics feel free to chime in, because i know i haven't hit them all.

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At this point I'm not sure who are the cats and who the pigeons now

If you find somewhere the average wage is 5 per day. Why would that be exploiting someone if you give them a job? Many people are happy to have a job at the going rate. Also as mentioned earlier, paying over the going wage rate messes up their economic system. Now that your paying a person 6 per day 20% more than all other employers. How do you think that will effect local business, and other employees attitudes? People aren't poor because of low wages, wages are relative. People are poor because of corruption, stealing, laziness, dishonesty and greed. There's more than enough for everyone, just not enough for everyone's greed.

going on Dave's views on international commerce... it has a point, but if the food is sold locally with local pricing, his point is mute.

 

Steve, it's exploitation on a worldly scale. when i write about this stuff i frequently use the terms 1st worlders and 2nd and 3rd worlders to illustrate my point...

to say that the 1st worlders are exploiting a less advanced civilization is really the wrong way to put it, but it best explains what im meaning. paying one person on one side of the planet a lot less to do the same job as a person on the other side.

 

it'll give the profiteer a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that they are still paying their workers more than the national average... but still much less than if they were to use the labor of 1st world countries.

 

you're correct about the greed. the higher wages will drive these people to want to keep their jobs. once the positions are filled, there's not much else thats going to happen. it's like contracting road construction. it'll give one company a contract to do the work, but the other companies don't get all bent out of shape over it, they find other work. the same goes on every where. i live in a place in the united states where the unemployment sits comfortably at 12%. if i cant get a job at the 4 start restaurant that im qualified to work at, i get a job at applebees until something new pops up. jobs are always looking to pay their employees the lowest wage possible, but dependable employees that are worth their wage have a better chance of landing a job... i.e. if you're worth the pay, you get what you want... same goes for every where... if someone wants something done right, they'll pay the higher price. it's the difference between having a court appointed lawyer ad a $1000 an hour lawyer.

 

i only put this up because one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to the commercialization of aquaponics is the cost of labor... it'll eat up nearly all of the gross. but, if you build your system where veggies are hard to come by unless they are imported, and the works force is cheap... then you have found your way to get around your profit loss.

 

i do agree that these systems, for the time being are extremely location dependent. until solar conversion research and wind power research can produce enough energy and still be cost effective aquaponic systems on a large scale do depend on warmer climates. now granted, there is about 25,000-27,000 linear miles (depending on what latitude you're at) that is prime real-estate for aquaponic systems at their current levels of operation. the use of supplemental lighting can help in the northern regions, but it's costly, not only per unit and its upkeep, but in energy consumption as well.

 

this thread isn't meant for the members of this forum to point each other out and to name names. that can be done in private. this thread is meant to show the entirety of the aquaponics world that we are noticing the scammers and schemers, and giving people a public area to voice out against the unethical people involved in aquaponics. the more people voicing their views and opinions about the ethics in aquaponics and the scammers, the more likely it's going to show up on google to warn those that know nothing about the dark side of this business. this thread is meant to protect those that don't know any better. to prevent the new comers from following the wrong paths.

 

this is a buyer beware market, and i make it my personal duty to make anyone and everyone aware of the fact that there are some people involved with aquaponics that are looking to make a quick buck.

oh, i forgot something.

 

the term sufficient data has room for interpretation. sufficient data isn't run completely by a timeline. sufficient data, in a business sense, is something that can be replicated over and over again with marginal error. if i can replicate the same outcome for a certain set of variables based on a system of parameters 1000 time in a day or 1000 times in a year what's the difference? part of my fathers job is to test the degradation of different polymers in sunlight over the course of 500 years... since that is pretty impossible to do on the normal constraints of time, they built a machine and a system that speeds up the process a bit... only takes about 6 hours... same data, same variables and parameters... different lengths of time.

so in the world of aquaponics you have the main variables pH, fish, feed, plant, water flow, aeration, and sunlight. there's others but i dont want to drag this out. over the course of a year you're going to face troubles with each variable, sometimes many of them at a time. so what's the difference of surviving these variable changes in the course of the year and charting you success through it to teach to others, or waiting 2-3 years to run through the same variables?

Sorry Murray, but the examples you give are totally different than, and not applicable to what is being discussed...

Teachers and academics have been trained to an accepted standard and level of knowledge (at the time).. and then go on to impart their knowledge, and/or hone their skills by either direct employment, or by, as you say, developing their theories/postulations through funded projects...

 

Even "preachers" are generally trained to an "accepted" level of knowledge or standard... although any one could, and some do... offer themselves up as such... without any necessarily accepted knowledge or training... and may even develop a significant following...

 

None of the above is the same as anyone that is postulating training in anything related to a commercial profitable business.... aquaponics or otherwise...

 

Although I guess it could be said... that some "preachers" might actually do exactly that... and some seemingly highly successfully...

 

There seems to be a plentiful supply of "preachers" all over the internet and on TV.... with lots of associated merchandising and marketing...

Murray Hallam said:

Rather a short sighted proposition Rupert.  If we were to apply this yardstick to teachers, then none would ever get a start in a job.  Most academics would also be eliminated. Most of them complete their masters or Dr on some sort of Government grant.  Most preachers would not ever get started and on it goes.  IMHO.

 

You may well have a point....but what is it?  You are assuming that all the persons who are attempting to teach AP have no experience....in anything and no right to "have a go" . I really don't get what it is you are on about.  If a person hangs up their shingle and offers a product or service the market will soon sort it out.  If their product or service is not good value they will soon fail.    Are you suggesting that we should form a governing body to regulate who is deemed to have enough "experience"  Are you assuming that the potential clients are all stupid and need somebody to tell them what to do?

As any experienced teacher knows, there is a lot more to successful teaching than just experience in the particular discipline being taught.  I have sat in lectures being delivered by highly qualified people and they were extremely poor at imparting their knowledge, in fact they could only be judged as failures....so who is to be allowed to teach?  
 
Who decided that two years as a successful AP farmer with certified tax returns on the table ?  Why not make it 3 years or 5 years and that they must be making at least a million a year ?  When can we be really sure?

Who decided that their business could only have one income stream to be deemed "successful"   Why not stipulate that they can only teach about lettuce when they have grown only lettuce and nothing else.    That is just a silly notion. All successful businesses big or small spread their profit centres and develop multiple income streams. It is just good business and makes sense for the small AP farmer as well.



Murray I think you have totally misunderstood the intention of my post(s)... and in parts are totally misinterpreting them...

I never said that "all the persons who are attempting to teach AP have no experience....in anything and no right to "have a go"... or anything like it..

 

I raised the point, in response to Damon's post... as to whether or not it is ethical to offer training in "commercial" aquaponics... if in fact anyone offering that sort of training had no, or limited actual "commercial aquaponics" experience...

 

Or might be advocating, or basing any training on untested, unproven (from a commercial point of view) methodology...

 

As I clearly said... I don't have a problem with anyone offering training in methodologies.. accepted or new... that might be applied to "commercial" aquaponics...

 

My point is whether or not any person(s) purporting to offer training in commercial aquaponics can, and does have the ability to actually back the claim... both with demonstrable experience... and cold hard figures...

 

As to alternate/conjunctive income streams... no problem.... but be upfront about them... if a large proportion of the profitability of your "aquaponics business" is auxillary sales and training, fine... but don't lump those income streams into a perception of "profitability" based on the operation of an aquaponics system, or methodolgy in itself...

To do so is IMO... misleading... especially if attendees of a course on "commercial aquaponics"  attend on the basis that the course provides a method of acheiving profitability based on running an aquaponics system alone

 

I think you're being a little obtuse Murray... and attacking the "messenger"... rather than actually addressing the message...


 

 

You may well have a point....but what is it?  You are assuming that all the persons who are attempting to teach AP have no experience....in anything and no right to "have a go" . I really don't get what it is you are on about.  If a person hangs up their shingle and offers a product or service the market will soon sort it out.  If their product or service is not good value they will soon fail.    Are you suggesting that we should form a governing body to regulate who is deemed to have enough "experience"  Are you assuming that the potential clients are all stupid and need somebody to tell them what to do?

As any experienced teacher knows, there is a lot more to successful teaching than just experience in the particular discipline being taught.  I have sat in lectures being delivered by highly qualified people and they were extremely poor at imparting their knowledge, in fact they could only be judged as failures....so who is to be allowed to teach?  
 
Who decided that two years as a successful AP farmer with certified tax returns on the table ?  Why not make it 3 years or 5 years and that they must be making at least a million a year ?  When can we be really sure?

Who decided that their business could only have one income stream to be deemed "successful"   Why not stipulate that they can only teach about lettuce when they have grown only lettuce and nothing else.    That is just a silly notion. All successful businesses big or small spread their profit centres and develop multiple income streams. It is just good business and makes sense for the small AP farmer as well.

 



As I said earlier Murray, my post, and intention of the post... wasn't directed to any one person or group...

And I have no desire for the discussion to descend into any person squabbling... so let's bring this back to some constructive debate...

Is your position that anyone can/should be able to provide whatever level of training they wish to... based on wahtever claim, or level of experience... and simply... "let the buyer beware"... and "the market" sort it out??

the sales of knowledge in the aquaponics industry will offset the profit lost in labor costs. the farm i was managing only drew in so much in actual aquaponic production, but drew in almost an equal amount of gross by selling manuals, and educational tools.

 

the farm that i was on did miss most of their projected figures... i know this because my hard evidence figures that i took down over the course of my 9 month stay didn't quite match up to the numbers in the manual.

 

when it came to the amount of lettuce produced vs. the amount of sellable product produced, you'd begin to see a big difference... in the range of a 40-50% difference... like i said before... the bloating of numbers... saying you can produce so much food when in all actuality a large portion of that number isn't qualifiable for commercial sales. yes, it is still food, but it's not fit for store shelves.

 

we broke this down into 3 categories on the farm... firsts, seconds, and waste.

 

the firsts is what made it into the packaging and was sold to the masses.

the seconds were good enough to eat, but didnt look as pretty or had minor imperfections. so we ate them on the farm... 

and the waste was obviously the inedible lettuce...

 

now in the eyes of business, anything that isn't a "first" is a waste because it cant be sold, but some people are still adding the production of the firsts, seconds, and waste all together to pump up their production numbers... because after all, they're all food being produced by the system, even though not all of it can be sold for profit.

 

basically the lettuce production broke even because of the high labor cost of the region. the sales coming from the knowledge part of the aquaponics operation was where the spending money came from.

 

i fully support the selling of knowledge in this area, people deserve to make a little something from the hard work they put in to advancing this science. but bloating your production figures by basically be dishonest about what the numbers actually mean is a big problem. and again, it all comes back down to honesty, and honesty should always be the corner stone to your ethics.

 

there really is no defining line to determine a persons learning curve. im young, my college experience is in a completely different field than im finding myself in these days, and i opted out of finishing school to boot. but should that determine how well i can manage a farm and impart my knowledge to others? 

 

what it really should come down to is proven numbers. like i said before replicated data. if i can hit a target yield when facing all of the changing variables in a short amount of time, who's to say that doing that isn't any better than spending years waiting for the same variables to pop up? remember the in the cartoons where the weather outside goes through the four seasons and the main character says something like, "wow, crazy weather we're having this week." wouldn't a system that had run the gambit through that weak or month of extreme variable hold as much proverbial water as waiting the full year for those same weather condition... metaphorically speaking... mainly because the life cycle of lettuce is longer then a month, but you can see what i'm getting at.

here's another one that i just came across yesterday via business offer...

 

being commissioned to build a system for a third party with concern as to its operational functionality...

 

what i mean to say is i was offered a consulting position to design and oversee construction on a very large system. this system would be built in preparation for an "end of the world" scenario. im talking commercial sized bomb shelter with an aquaponics system to sustain life while living under ground. i told this person that once a system is up and running that it requires upkeep to ensure the survival of the fish and to keep the system ready at all times... that the systems arent like light switches and cant just produce food like a light bulb produces light at the flip of a switch... he said that these wernt his concerns and would not be inquired on my behalf... basically he'll be building a system and leaving it empty by the sound of things... so when the D-day does come and the necessity for food has arrived... all these people will find is a very well build, but non-operational system...

 

so how would you handle this? build a system that will feed many people knowing full well that in their greatest time of need of aquaponics, the system will be worthless? could you knowing rake in a butt load of money to design a system that you know will fail the people that are counting on it?

If you build it you may be guilty of getting into a similar ethnically difficult area you have been talking about in some of your earlier posts.  Or, "if there is a buck in it for me" then it can suddenly become very ethical.
I think it is often tagged, "situational ethics"  What is bad for one can be argued to be good for me in another situation.  Or, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"    That is why it is never wise to challenge someone else's values. 

Trouble is John, we are so regulated these days we have come to expect some Gov dude to tell us what to do, when to do it, to protect us, and on and on it goes. Why not let "the buyer beware"   Is that so bad ?  And in any case, how will it be determined as to who is a fit and proper person?  
Perhaps an Aquaponics Association ????   Now there is an idea ???

RupertofOZ said:

As I said earlier Murray, my post, and intention of the post... wasn't directed to any one person or group...

And I have no desire for the discussion to descend into any person squabbling... so let's bring this back to some constructive debate...

Is your position that anyone can/should be able to provide whatever level of training they wish to... based on wahtever claim, or level of experience... and simply... "let the buyer beware"... and "the market" sort it out??

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