Back in 2012, when Palakkad-native Vijayakumar Narayanan returned from Muscat after various jobs for 20 years, he was unsure of what to do next. He could always farm at his ancestral house in Nanniyode, but what? So he pored over books about new farming techniques and crops which were suitable for Kerala’s climate. The mathematics graduate finally decided to go forward with aquaponics, a method that involves a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. The nutrients from fish excreta enrich the water, which is then used for the plants.

“While working in Muscat, I attended a few classes about hydroponics farming which is the method of farming without the use of soil. Aquaponics is similar but more organic with an added advantage of double income from fish as well,” says the 52-year-old to The Better India.

But what pushed him towards aquaponics was a particular incident in the 2012 monsoon. There was a big tree in Vijayakumar’s backyard, which collapsed, leaving a big hole in the land. It was filled with water because of the rains, and he decided to use the pit as a tank. Today, his fish tank consists of tilapia, carp, and even small crabs. “I feed them natural feed such as rice bran, coconut, and groundnut oil cake which are comparatively inexpensive and organic,” he says. 

In the surrounding area of the tank, Vijayakumar planted various types of vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, spinach, mint, tomato, okra, chilies, brinjal, and more. Ammonia from the fish waste contains nitrites and nitrates formed through bacterial action, which is an ideal fertilizer for plants. Even the banana plants in Vijayakumar’s backyard are provided with nutrient-rich water to get good yields.

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