Fish, plant farm forms a 'virtuous circle'

In Maghdouche, a computer technician is testing aquaponics, an agricultural technique that combines fish farming and plant harvesting. For several months, Mr Raif Chabab has been installing a system that nurtures his wall of vegetables and fruit.

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In the first tank, a filter separates solid fish waste from the liquid. The water, which is rich in ammonia, is routed to a second tank, where a biological and chemical process is applied before it is used to irrigate the plants.

The plants absorb the rich fertilisers through their roots, purifying the water, which is directed back to the fish tank - a virtuous circle.

Aquaponics has many advantages over traditional farming, says Mr Raif. "The water circulates in a closed circuit. The only amount lost is what the plants absorb or what evaporates. Aquaponics saves 90 per cent of water. Moreover, this technology naturally excludes the use of pesticides or artificial fertilisers, because they affect the quality of the water and put the fish at risk."

Unlike traditional agriculture, aquaponic plantations do not require soil, and can be easily installed vertically or on a rooftop. And, finally, the system reaps two harvests - both the fish and plants can be sold and consumed.

Mr Raif hopes this agricultural technique will spread throughout the country. "For my part, I hope to expand my farm."