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Bit sad that  "nevefear" didn't recognise the "olive branches" that had been extended... how ever....

 

As this thread seems to have veered towards "reality"... then let's be real about "aquaponics saving/feeding the world"...

 

It WONT.... it has yet to prove that it can even match existing production methods beyond a certain scale... and is no where near the scale and viability of existing commercial agribusiness... or a scale of producing/supplying a world market...

 

And the problem with world hunger and malnutrition.. isn't a problem (as yet) of food production anyway.... the world had consistantly shown that it is capable of producing all the food that is necessary to feed the peoples of the world...

 

It's just that, with agi-subsidies, inherent economics, politics, corruption... and more often than not distribution.... we don't get it to the peoples in need...a distribution and logistics problem... or aren't prepared to do so for reasons of politics or "market" pricing...

 

And those same inherent reasons will also prevent AP from making any substantial inroads into world hunger... particularly questions of distribution and storage... not only because of politics, corruption and market economics...

 

But because storage and distribution... and even localised food production... and certainly AP....share a common problem, on all levels in most third world countries....

 

Electricity supply... and more particularly.... stability of suppy....

 

All the food in the world... doesn't help... if it can't be grown and/or stored... with refridgeration... and that depends on electricity supply... not just at warehouse level... but even at village/home level....

 

The key to solving world hunger, and many other problems... would actually be to interconnect the worlds power supply grids... and expand, reliable electricity supply into, and throughout third world countries... for so many reasons, not just food... but industrial growth etc...

 

On top of the problem of electrical supply... and solar may alter, and negate that problem to some extent in the future... there exists another principal reason that AP wont solve the worlds food needs...

 

And that's simply that most of the world, or certainly those in greatest need.... have diets that are primarily "cereals"/grain based.... rice, maize and other grains...

 

And AP hasn't been shown to be capable of producing the amounts of grains needed to satisfy the need of these groups of peoples....

 

Yes, many populations could well benefit from increased protiens in their diets... and fish is certainly/potentially a major source of possible protein supply... but again... unless eaten immediately... it needs to be stored...

 

And aquaculture needs reliable power supply.. to suceed... as does aquaponics...

I think those are all good points. I also think, however, that while the ultimate goal for SOME people MIGHT be to replace other farming methods with AP, most of us want to find ways to educate others about how to use AP in whatever way they can to SUPPLEMENT their current food needs so they don't have to buy as much from stores...thereby decreasing the need for large farms to produce as much. 

Not producing as much would mean less impact on the Earth and possibly being able to use better methods of farming to feed hungry people.

Really I feel like the big goal of this site and the people on it is education. Learning why AP can be a better method (and the inherent flaws with it as well), how to work it into your life, how to grow your own veggies...or just to teach people that the current way we do things isn't the best and things need to eventually change.

Without this education nothing will ever happen. With it - there is a chance that when the time is right, things will.

As "off" as that neverfear character seemed, at least he got people talking, lOL.

Aquaponics certainly has a role to play in backyard, or even localised food production Ricky... and in improved diets.. and food security...

 

But without a way to power such systems.. reliably, and consistantly... at a local level... in third world countries... which implies millions of systems...

 

Then "feeding the world" with aquaponics... is nothing but a "first world" "feel good" pipe dream...

Good analysis Rupert. Very lucid. I'll just have a couple of comments.

"the world had consistantly shown that it is capable of producing all the food that is necessary to feed the peoples of the world..."

Yes that's right, I think we even produce twice the amount of calories we would need to feed the whole planet, and as you mention world hunger is a logistic and simple selfishness problem. But there is a catch, the modern agricultural system on which we rely won't work for very much longer. Not on an historic timescale anyway... For every 1 calorie of food we produce we need 10 calories of OIL. Another way to put it is that oil is working for us the human hour equivalent of 22 BILLIONS slaves, day and night, 24/7! So even if oil resources were going to last another century (way beyond the most optimistic predictions), it is not sustainable for any length of time that matters in the time scale that concerns us as a specie. And the fact is that we are not at all prepared to farm without oil... We forgot how to do it, simple as that... without oil our 400Hp tractors won't feed anyone, and the developed countries will feel the blow even more than developing countries whose people are closer to the soil and manual techniques to get food out of it. So, is aquaponics one of the solutions ? May be... At a family level it could help a lot.


The other great point you make is the electricity dependence of aquaponics. I've been solicited by PM by a member of this community who feels strongly about bringing aquaponics to the developing countries. But aquaponics is too high tech at the moment for the less developed regions, which are also the one who would need it the most. I live in India since 10 years, I know what a developing country is, and I can see that aquaponics is not ready in its present form to be implemented by anybody here except the middle class as a hobby. The testing rigor (Ph and stuff) demanded is also quite alien to the mind set of the lower classes here. Tanks and pipes are also beyong reach of approximately 300 millions people here in terms of investments. I am new to aquaponics but I design complex energy transference systems (machines of another kind) for a living and I'm quite hopeful that there must be a way to do aquaponics without electricity and plastic. Some aspect will have to be seriously modified but the principle will be identical. I started designing a system basically feasible with Neolithic building techniques and materials. In other words a system that can be self built by a farmer here without having to buy a thing. I will have to do one myself and run it for a couple of years. My main motivation is the challenge, I just love smart engineering constrained to a set of parameters, just what aquaponics is already. I'll just try to add another set of constrains which are the Neolithic conditions in which a billion farmers are presently operating in the world.


So to conclude, it is not just be about saving the hungry, it is that we will have to sustain ourselves without depending on 10 calories of oil for each calories of food, and give up on our 22 billion virtual slaves. Sooner or later... reality will track us   :)

I agree totally... and reality... and sonner or later the 22 billion virtual slaves.... will bite us... hard... and may be beginning to do so already...

 

And apart from all else... therein lies the greatest threat to sustainability itself.... population...

The problem could be population ... or it could be what the population is doing. The solution could be to reduce population or to change what the population does ...

At the moment my feeling is that the problem is that a tertiary sector civilization is not sustainable. 70% of the people in a modern society are eating and consuming but are basically only producing paper-work. Mostly paper work to tell the other 30% (primary sector 10%, secondary 20%) how to live and think and work... And in the 20% secondary sector at least 10% are producing goods that are destructive, either directly (weapons etc) or indirectly (bad food, poisonous substances, doubtful pharmaceutics, stupid gadgets etc). 

So is it a surprise that having only 20% of the population doing real, vital activities, while the rest consumes, produce chimeras or outright destruction can't be sustainable ? 

Am not trying to drag anybody in a debate here :)  It's just that I am myself in a phase of realization about these things, and strangely, just before reaching 40, I feel a strong urge to have a sustainable farm. If it's the onset of the famed middle-life crisis I love it !

Go get it Alexandre...

Hello all,

 

I attempted to reply first thing this morning (my time) but am continuing to have issues with keystrokes and other inputs. It only seems to be occurring on one of the computers I use.

 

First, I recognize some people do feel or want to feel a deeper connection, to many things. I can respect that – my apologies. I can be a bit too black and white for my own good sometimes.

 

Carey Ma,

 

I am beginning to sense a theme to your input in the many threads on this site. Generally, I like what you are thinking, but respectfully, you seem quite far from reality. I do commend you on one significant point you’ve made in this piece of your comment -  “IMTAAS (Integrated Multi-Trophic Agriculture and Aquaculture Systems) are a major key to the salvation of humankind.” I personally don’t believe they will save humankind, but the point I like is that your reference infers that AP proper, is just one of many technologies required. I’m embellishing a bit, because I really hope you recognise AP as one little piece of a big pie. Also, thanks for the new acronym to add to my growing collection. I haven’t heard that one thrown around on the other forums yet.

 

I can speak to feeding the children to some extent. In fact, I would love to do more in that direction. So you understand, though I am currently based in Thailand, I work in and support seven developing countries in SE Asia – Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines. I’ve also lived and worked on Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia.

 

I have seen numerous wasted attempts to impose non-traditional farming methods on these cultures. My Thai in-laws currently farm several varieties of rice, as well as numerous fruits and veggies. They also raise Ba Nin (Tilapia) and Ba Duk (eel-tailed catfish). They, like some of my Indo friends and neighbors, thought my AP systems were quite the novelty. They saw the success in what I was producing, but they clearly understood it had no function in their society. I happen to agree with them, for a number of reasons. John touched a bit on some physical, technical and what may be the most challenging - political challenges developing countries face. I hope I contributed to his “reality check” to some extent.

 

 

In my own experience, I have come to understand what AP is and more importantly, what AP is not. I love AP – I look forward to coming home and tending to the systems everyday I’m there. But honestly, I see new wicking beds as a much more productive addition to my little homestead. I see hydro NFT as a better option as well and please let me explain why.

 

 

While there are some extreme climates where water is scarce and AP presents a potential solution, many of the developing countries, where nutrition is a real issue, happen to fall into tropical climates. Of course I had watched Nat Geo when I lived in the States, but I had no clue what I was in for in the area of BUGS and other pests. I’m thinking you should know this having traveled around Asia…. Anyway, for one, AP completely ties your hands as to pest control options. Please don’t bring up “organic” or “natural” pest controls. These bugs laugh at that stuff. I’ve got Thai chili and garlic sprays that will burn the skin off of your hands (fish don’t mind it), but the bugs don’t miss a beat. I initially started my wicking beds and isolated NFT systems so I could battle the little you-know-what’s a bit more aggressively. Sadly, those very pest controls were what drove me to AP to begin with. The good news is that the two (wicking beds and NFT) have far exceeded my production hopes and they have become significant pieces of that same pie we discussed earlier.

 

Sorry for the length and rants, but I’m really disappointed when I hear new folks coming into this with unrealistic expectations, particularly those with commercial aspirations (but that’s another thread…). I’m even more disappointed when experienced folks encourage them by painting an unrealistic picture. Once again, AP is a wonderful hobby. Unfortunately, it just won’t do many of the things so many hope it will.

For the record, people and education will be the solution to the nutritional intake issues of the world Alexandre, not AP.

Thanks Chips, I am truly eager to hear you guys share your experience and resultant world views...

But I'm not sure why you direct this bit at me : "For the record, people and education will be the solution to the nutritional intake issues of the world Alexandre, not AP."  I haven't gone any further than saying : "So, is aquaponics one of the solutions ? May be... "  

May be you haven't read the whole thread, no problem... I also expressed doubts as to the implementation of AP in the develloping country I know best, India, for the reason you mentioned : culture, education, physical and technical challenges... So I don't think we would appear to disagree that much if we had a real live conversation :)


As for my wishful dream of a Neolithic-friendly AP system, I also stated : "My main motivation is the challenge, I just love smart engineering constrained to a set of parameters"


I totally agree that, I know close to nothing about AP, just learning to keep my first fishes alive at the moment, and, I can appear justifiably naive and unrealistic to you experienced aquapons. So I'll just fall back a bit and continue learning  :)


No disrespect intended Alexandre. Your comments relating calories to oil was why I directed that to comment you. I agree with you that it's a challenge to be addressed. Remember, AP is reliant on power. Yes, solar, wind generated, etc are possible, but for the most part, fossil fuels make most of the current systems run today. Remember, you don't need oil to top up your wicking bed...guess that's a point I left out in my previous rant. Got too wordy as it was. Regardless, I think your last comments about falling back and learning to keep the fish alive is brilliant. It's what I love about AP as well - the challenge of making this little closed loop system produce with all of those variables like water chemistry and pests and fish diseases, etc. It's what makes it a fun, challenging hobby. I raised fish prior to AP, I also had a wonderful raised bed garden. I admit I sometimes feel handcuffed and blindfolded as the two main products of the AP system, plants and fish, present challenges in optimizing care for the other.

The reality of it all is that it doesn't matter what motivates folks to do this. Maybe it's just a personality flaw that requires I know and understand the limitations of something I pursue. Never been a big dreamer or gone for "pie in the sky" thinking. I feel at home when I understand the parameters I'm working with and then set out to optimize the inputs.

Cheers   

I Love AP and think it's far better than sliced bread (seeing as bread made from refined flower really isn't all that good for us.)  But I also have to agree that it is totally inappropriate in it's plastic and heavy electric use for for most of the truly low tech areas.

I've had people from India come to me and as about implementing Aquaponics in poor areas to provide work, food and income for the locals.  The truth is you have to investigate the local conditions and availability of the required stuff before you can decide what might be appropriate.  One example was with an area that already had the water supply and know how for extensive aquaculture so it wasn't a dry climate nor was there a lack of fresh water fish.  There was however a lack of easy access to sell high price items to the upper/middle class and electricity and the supplies for plastic aquaponics would not be easily available.  Such a place would be a poor choice to implement standard aquaponics but a good choice for wicking beds and some intense composting and humanure composting to improve soil and sanitation.

I agree that most of the hunger currently is a distrobution problem.  See it is far more profitable to turn the excess corn and soy into added sugars (high fructose corn syrup) and added fats to get us "first worlders" to eat more empty calories and pay more for them than we want or need than to pay money to send the food to the Third World.

And I'm not going to agree that we need to grow more grains to feed the growing population.  People need to get back to eating more leaves if we want to lower our medical bills and feed this growing population.  Everyone needs to grow a bit of their own food.  There is a huge amount of growing space available that is consuming plenty of oil to mow it and fertilize it and using lots of water and polluting our water and if people where to convert a little of those resources to growing some food in their suburban yards instead of lawns, suddenly the USA would probably find food not nearly so scarce and the truck farms could deliver into the "food Deserts" instead to help feed those big cities.  And if we help the third world re-learn old fashion farming while we work to re-learn it ourselves there may be hope.

Ya know it wasn't that many decades ago that victory gardens were actually providing a considerable % of a family's food here in the USA.  No I'm not saying that every family should grow 100% of their own food but just because most people Can't Grow 100% of their own food does that mean they shouldn't produce any?  So many people seem to have the impression that if a backyard garden can't produce 100% for cheaper then it isn't worth doing at all.  But if everyone grows at least a little bit of their own food (by whatever means works for them) then suddenly we have a very different country here.  Now in places where water is scarce but electricity very available, (and the people lazy or too busy) Aquaponics becomes a very attractive way to have a garden at home.

In order to feed the world,

Everyone Should "DO SOMETHING"

I grow as much of my own food as I can figure out how to do (saddly I'm feeding lots of squirrels in the process) and I try to teach other people how to do it too.

Certainly everyone should "DO SOMETHING".. and grow as much of their food as possible TCL...

And yep... we don't need to grow more grains... in the Western world.... but a lot of the rest of the world survives on grains.. and principally grow grains or cereals...

And, in terms of "feeding the world"... aquaponics just isn't going to do that... but that's often exactly what's touted with regards to aquaponics...

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