Egyptian farm uses Tilapia fish poop to grow plants

A man works at an aquaponics farm, which recycles water in fish tanks to grow vegetables, in Cairo
Fish are kept in tanks at the NatureWorks farm, Egypt, photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

“Our system here is a closed circle, made up of fish tanks and plant pots,” the Egyptian entrepreneur Abdelrahman Ahmed said about his hydroponic farm ‘NatureWorks’, where he grows vegetables using fish poop.

Ahmed says that his way of farming saves 95% of the water used in traditional agriculture. He farms both Tilapia fish and fresh vegetables by using the fish’s waste as a natural fertilizer.

The fish are bred and fed inside tanks, where they release waste. The water is then filtered and re-used to nourish the plants. “The waste is considered a natural fertilizer,” Ahmed told Reuters.

“The plants swim in the water and absorb all the nutrients coming from the fish, and then the water goes back to the fish as clean water,” Ahmed added.

“Tilapia fish, unfortunately, have a reputation that they live in sewage and eat bad food. So people aren’t very comfortable eating them,” Ahmed said about Tilapia fish.

“It is the opposite here. That fish (Tilapia) is the soul of the farm,” Ahmed said, adding that “the better the environment the fish live in, the more high-quality fodder they eat, helps the plants grow in the best way”.

Hydroponic gardening is a form of gardening based in water instead of soil and relies on nutrients concentrated in a solution of water to feed plants.

Egypt suffers from significant water shortages due to the combined effects of climate change, pollution and a growing population.

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