Arrindell visits aquaculture farm

POSTED: 07/8/11 1:31 PM

St. Maarten – President of Parliament drs. Gracita Arrindell visited the home of local businessman Johnny Bosch recently to get a first hand view of his aquaculture farm. The visit was at Bosch’s request and included a tour of the facility which produces tilapia fish, herbs and vegetables.

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.

“I was very impressed with this small scale of aquaculture principle-based and this is the wave of the future for country St. 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,” Arrindell said before opining that St. 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. 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.

The system used by Johnny Bosh is aquaponics. Bosch has been producing his own herbs since October. He always wanted to have a small greenhouse, but now it has grown into a facility that supplies two restaurants with lettuce, basil and parsley. The green house was built after Bosch and three others attended a course related to aquaponics in St. Croix last year.

Arrindell adds that alternative growers such as Joselyn Richardson and Rash Bushman also 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,” Arrindell noted.


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