Over the last two years, Cuban entrepreneurs Jose Martinez and Joel Lopez have used an innovative technique to raise 24 tons of tilapia -- a critical source of food for an island nation surrounded by water but not enough fish.
The pair, lawyers both aged 35, rely on a symbiotic method called aquaponics in which waste from the captive fish feeds plants grown not in soil but in pond water filtered through their roots to be reused for the tanks.
Two years ago, Martinez and Lopez started their business in Barbosa, a suburb of the capital Havana, with a government loan and some private savings. They built 12 ponds of 20 cubic meters each. In their ponds, the tilapia need six months to grow to the required size of 400 grams (14 ounces) for human consumption.
"We sell them (the fish) here in the community as we are a local development project, but part of the production will be sold in the tourism sector so that we can earn the money we need to continue" with the project, said Martinez, co-owner of the enterprise called JoJo Aquaponico.
When they have completed building their three greenhouses, the pair also hopes to be able to grow 36 tons of vegetables at a time.