Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production systems in the world, with the bulk of its output currently being within developing countries, and with expectations for aquaculture to continue its contributions to food security and poverty alleviation.
Recently President of Parliament drs. Gracita Arrindell was invited to visit the home of local businessman Johnny Bosch who has his own aquaculture principle-based farm producing tilapia fish, herbs and vegetables.
"I was very impressed with this small scale of aquaculture principle-based and this is the wave of the future for country Sint Maarten when it comes to our nation’s food security. Our people want safe and chemical and preservative free healthy food. We are all aware of the recent outbreak of E-coli in Germany possibly related to bean sprouts.
"The new wave of agriculture must be given a chance. It has the potential to create employment and generate wealth and contribute to sustainable economic growth. This new wave of agriculture would be based on exploiting the inter-sectoral linkages within the tourism sector," President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell said.
Arrindell added that Sint Maarten could be a regional source of safe and healthy foods.
The vast majority of aquaculture practices around the world have been pursued with significant nutritional and social benefits, and generally with little or no environmental costs, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Aquaponics, also known as the integration of hydroponics with agriculture, is a bio-integrated system that links re-circulating aquaculture with hydroponic vegetable, flower or herb production into a bio-integrated food production system.
Recent advances by researchers and growers alike have turned aquaponics into a working model of sustainable food production.
The system used by Johnny Bosh is aquaponics. Bosch has been producing his own herbs since October. Bosch says he always wanted to have a small greenhouse, but now it has grown. He currently supplies two restaurants with lettuce, basil and parsley.
Bosch last year attended a course in St. Croix along with three others related to aquaponics etc. After he returned, he started developing his greenhouse.
Aquaponics helps production agriculture meet its goals of sustainability by following certain principles: waste products of one system serve as food or fuel for a second biological system.
The integration of fish and plants is a type of polyculture that increases diversity and thereby enhances system stability; biological water filtration removes nutrients from water before it leaves the system; and the sale of products generates income which supports the local economy.
Arrindell adds that alternative growers such as Joselyn Richardson and Rash Bushman need support and recognition for what they do.
"The Development Bank of the Netherlands Antilles (OBNA) has an agriculture division and that could be tapped for funding for the development of aquaponics on the island," President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell noted.