On May 26, in line with the launch of its “Plant, Plant, Plant Program,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) introduced an innovative farming system called aquaponics to address food security concerns and provide livelihood programs in Metro Manila’s urban communities and municipalities. 

“We want an agriculture that is modern; we want an agriculture that is technology-based; we want to eradicate subsistence agriculture; we want an agriculture that is inclusive and market-oriented,” Secretary William Dar said.

Aquaponics integrates aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soilless plant farming) to mimic the natural process of the ecosystem and turn fish waste and by-products into food for bacteria and then into plant fertilizers. The plants will then filter and purify the water back into the fish tank.

There are two sizes of aquaponic units that will be available to interested municipalities. The small-scale unit occupies only a square meter but can produce around 50 to 75 catfishes and 54 heads of lettuce in a month or two, while the large-scale unit (triple the width of the smaller unit) can yield 120 to 300 pieces of catfish and 344 pieces of lettuce in at least four months. 

A small-scale unit can generate at least P4,080 per harvest while a large-scale unit can achieve as much as P112,572 gross in sales per harvest. The fiberglass units costing P36,000 for the small-scale unit and P120,000 for the large-scale unit are solar- and hybrid electric-powered. 

More units are already in production for regional areas but for Metro Manila, 15 small-scale, 10 large-scale units and 50 large-scale canvas units are available for distribution as part of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’s Food Resiliency and Recovery Program for COVID-19. Once municipalities, organizations or individuals show interest in the project and receive the unit, the DA will issue a memorandum of agreement to the receiving party to identify them as recipients of the project. The project will also include basic training for fish and vegetable cultivation and efficient technology transfer.

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