Barangay Maunlad is encouraging its communities to venture into aquaponics cultivation, saying it is not only a way to generate profit but also to encourage community participation in ensuring food sufficiency for urban areas.
Maunlad barangay captain Alfredo Mondragon, said Tuesday that they started practicing aquaponics in 2019 after it was introduced to them by the City Agriculture Office with the assistance of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Aquaponics is an innovative technology that combines concepts of aquaculture and hydroponics to allow fish and vegetables to grow together in an integrated system, as explained by the bureau.
The barangay spent P18,000 to build a model which now contains ‘tilapia’ fish and different vegetables depending on weather conditions. The design located within the barangay hall ground is painted blue with four drums below to hold the water for the fingerlings and fishes, while the upper part is composed of two drums divided into halves where the vegetables are planted.
“Isa sa gusto namin makita na dito sa urban barangays, sa sobrang hirap ng economy natin ngayon gusto namin maglabas ng mga produkto na aquaponic. Kami, more on, gusto namin i-educate ang aming community–hindi naman kami after doon sa kikitain,” Mondragon said.
“Gusto namin ipakita sa kanila na instead nag-aalaga sila ng mga aquarium parang palamuti lang sa kanilang tahanan, gumawa na lang sila ng ganito (aquaponics). At the same time, nandito kami para tulungan sila, kung sino interesado, pwede lumapit sa amin,” he added.
From being beginners, the barangay council worked on learning the technology until they started harvesting products from the cultivation. It also helped feed local workers during the height of the pandemic and when eating meat is restricted as a Catholic practice during Holy Week.
The barangay harvested about five kilos of fish during the recent Holy Week and distributed it even to the leaders of other barangays, Mondragon said.
But even though the barangay started its aquaponics cultivation three years ago, Mondragon said there is still a need for the council to conduct information dissemination as many are still surprised to know that it is existing in their community.
Mondragon said he believes that the products from aquaponics have potential market value, but added that he wants to focus first on informing and encouraging the community.
“Dito muna ito sa community, hindi (pa) namin inilalabas. Gusto ko kasi na ‘pag naglabas na kami, mas marami na sa community ang maraming ganito (aquaponics). Hindi naman natin nilalahat, sana karamihan sa kanila ay mag-alaga tayo ng kapaki-pakinabang, sa economy natin makakatulong pa,” he explained.
“Ang masakit lang sa Pinoy, natutuwa lang sila pero ayaw nila mag-practice sa kanila. Isa ‘yon sa mga gusto natin i-educate sa kanila. Huwag lang puro tingin, dapat i-implement din natin–hindi high maintenance ang aquaponics, ang nililinis lang dito ay sa ibabaw. Ang kagandahan pa rito, ‘pag umulan, ang papatak sa loob, dadagdag sa drum, bawas lang nang bawas. After ng harvest, bago ka naman maglinis,” he added.
Mondragon said Maunlad is the only urban barangay practicing aquaponics cultivation in the city. He is eyeing the possibility of some other barangays adapting it in their areas.
He believes that aquaponics will help encourage the youth to venture into agriculture. When the pandemic is over, the barangay council is planning to obligate each of the barangay’s ten puroks to implement an aquaponics concept.
“Kung saan, ma-educate silang (kabataan) muli na maliban sa (paggamit ng gadget) ay kinakailangan natin magtanim, mag-alaga ng makakain natin. Hindi lang sa pansarili kung hindi pati sa kapit-bahay. Ang relationship kasi masyadong nawala na, ang kulturang Pilipino unti-unting nawawala na. Unti-unti natin itong ibabalik sa pagtatanim sana,” he said.