Areas of Focus: Water and sanitation, Maternal and child health, Economic and community development
Summary: Aquaponics production tanks in a rural Belize for food production
Aquaponics gardening project in Belize
Several clubs in Denton are working to provide aquaponics systems for villages in rural Belize.
Farming accounts for 75-80% of fresh water usage in the world and in many areas water is in short supply. Current irrigation techniques waste precious water and the runoff pollute rivers with leached soil and fertilizers. This Aquaponics projects creates a closed system that cuts water usage by 80% and uses fish and vegetable farming to support each other. The system includes a 300 gallon fish tank and 55 gallon barrels, cut in half length-wise, planted with vegetables. Fresh water flows into the fish pond, the fish produce waste (ammonia) that is pumped into the garden. The plants clean the waste from the water and use that waste as food and the freshened water is again pumped into the fish tank. The gardens we are proposing would feed about forty people each and would be managed by villages. The systems cost about $2,000 US each and we are looking at installing 5 of them in Belize this in January.
The system uses either solar or grid electricity to move water from pond to garden. It also requires seed, fish food and clean non-chlorinated water. Basic supplies and equipment to set up the system are available in even rural areas of Belize. The system is automated so it runs without human intervention, but it does require monitoring to ensure it is functioning correctly and there is a back-up hand pump system should the electricity fail. There are currently similar systems in place in Belize that have been working for over a year and there is a demonstration garden in The Colony that is ready to produce a second harvest. Rotarians from our district have planned a trip to Belize this September to evaluate their local Rotary clubs and sites for partnering. They will visit several areas and ensure the materials and villages are going to be available and prepared to handle the project.
The project includes education on the system, necessary on-going maintenance and critical failure solutions. The actual construction will be done by trained Texas and Belize Rotarians as well as villagers so they fully understand the process and can replicate it in other areas. We expect to have 15-30 North Texas Rotarians go to Belize in January next year to implement this project. We will hold training sessions here prior to the trip and build a system to ensure that we understand the most effective construction techniques.
The area currently relies on subsistence farming: this garden will increase yields and reduce crop production time. The gardens produce vegetable and fish for consumption or sale and are useful most of the year. The footprint is about 300 square feet for each operation. As we get more information we will be able to determine the added nutritional value to the village children from the vegetables and fresh fish. We also expect to learn yields so we can best position them for the community.
The project will take 2-3 days to complete in country, including education, construction and testing. Most of the funds will be used to purchase materials for construction but there is money in the budget for education and tools to maintain the system after we leave.
There is a resource in the area that has constructed these systems nearby and they will be available for aquaponics trouble-shooting and system help on-going.
This project is "Approved". This means that the district leadership has reviewed and approved the allocation of district funds for this project. Once the funds from the district have been issued, the status of the project will be changed to "Paid".