There has been many discussions, both here on the forum and in my circle of friends and family about the difference that the right people can make. The members of this forum are all quite keen on aquaponics and there are many that believe that it is going to become a massive industry. Pity then that none of these optimists seem to populate the corridors of government, research, university and funding agencies. Or very few then. I have had my share of frustrations and, so it seems, has many other members from across the globe. How refreshing then to encounter someone different.
Many of you may have seen me refer to my polycarb greenhouse as the “research unit”. This is a government funded project aimed at developing a zero waste culture system that produces fish on the one end and processed fertilizer on the other. While I could get the money needed to get the project off the ground, I have been pulling my hair out of my head of late due to the complete lack of interest from the funding agency in expanding and improving the project. There has also been an unusually large amount of people turn-over on agency side, including the incorporation of the funder itself into a large government umbrella body with typical big government delays and stone walls. Thus, after a new control board and getting my third project manager on the other side, I was ready to run for the hills. I just did not have the reserves left to start from scratch again trying to convince some portfolio manager on the other end of a phone line just how important this project can be. The previous folk obviously did not care enough as they left my request for funding additions to gather dust for 7 months. The initial project manager, after resigning, intimated that he was not sure if the project has a future.
“Since when will anything have a future with such crappy help” I quietly thought to myself. I started thinking about what I could potentially start next as this project was obviously doomed to grind to a halt at the end of this funding phase. Never mind that I have a stable prototype that does exactly what I said it would. So, with impending doom of a third disinterested project manager playing paper shuffle with my requests in mind, I took a conference call yesterday “to allow the lady to familiarize herself with the project”.
My word. I’m energized again. Not because I was promised anything, but because I now have someone on the other end that obviously knows what she is supposed to be doing and how her institution operates. This does not guarantee the future extension of the project, but it is indescribable what joy I have experienced just talking to someone that sounds intelligent and interested in doing her job. Her job of course, is not to simply dole out cash. My job is to do the work and to justify them paying the bills, but what a difference it makes when you get the impression that this will actually happen. In 1 hour I have received more recognition for my determination and budget shuffling abilities than the preceding year and a half had brought.
This got me thinking. Thinking about how aquaponics seem to be growing rapidly in the private domain but struggling to break onto funding agency and local government radar. Without wanting to sound insulting, I always assumed it was because the people at those entities were not capable or willing to get involved. As if they are all sitting on the sideline waiting for it to work somewhere else before they are willing to risk their little grey necks on it. I have just met someone different. She does not know a thing about aquaponics, but that will change. She knows about doing her job, and with such a person, I feel confident about doing mine.