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Félix Haget, Eauzons!

Tropical fruit produced in France using aquaponics and residual heat

Producing salmon, vegetables, exotic fruit and shrimp in the Gers department. That is the ambitious challenge set by Eauzons! for 2019. Created by 9 founding partners who are experts in the agricultural sector, Eauzons! has set itself the goal of offering products that are both tasty and derived from a virtuous agricultural model. The system is based on aquaponics, a production method that uses living recirculated water to feed 3 compartments: a fish farm, a bacterial farm and above-ground plant cultivation. This closed circuit saves significant amounts of water and eliminates the use of phytosanitary products and fertilizers. "What makes Eauzons! special is that we control the entire chain, from the egg to the processing of our fish, and from the seed to the marketing of our fruit and vegetables," explains Félix Haget, managing director of the company.

Félix Haget

Pilot farm of 1,800 m² in the Gers
It all started with the creation of a 1,800 m² pilot farm in the Gers department. "The project goes beyond the experimental scale, since we are already marketing our products at prices that are affordable for everyone. This farm enables us to carry out a variety of crop tests, such as ratatouille vegetables, hanging strawberries and a chapel dedicated to tropical crops including passion fruit, vanilla and pitayas."

Tropicalization of greenhouses based on the use of waste heat
In order to be viable, tropical production needs to be heated. To achieve this, this closed system is even more virtuous, since it will use waste heat (heat from an industrial process whose purpose is not to produce heat, and which can be recovered). "We are very much in demand from manufacturers, such as oil groups, methanation companies, waste incineration units and other producers of waste heat, most of whom are now obliged to recover it. There are still few outlets for this waste heat, particularly for low-energy set-backs. But it is useful for us to heat our water and greenhouses. Right from the start of our project, we tried to tropicalize our greenhouses. We began by producing vanilla, and over the last two years, we have been growing passion fruit and more recently pitayas."

Tropical fruits with interesting nutritional value
The company has been reserving its conclusive results for its best clients for the time being. "We are still in the test phase, so we do not have enough tropical fruit to market on a large scale. But the results are very interesting. We are working with endemic varieties that are very tasty, so we are able to obtain fruit of very high quality, with the same color, appearance and texture as those produced locally. There is a notable difference between fruit harvested locally and ripe, and fruit that may have been on a boat for several weeks before reaching the shelves."

An economic stake in the tropicalization of crops
This tropical production could help maintain a balance between livestock farming and fruit and vegetable production. "There is a real economic stake in the tropicalization of our crops, since it would enable us to increase our margins on the vegetable part, which currently represents over 70% of our surface area and mobilizes 60% of our payroll for less than 30% of sales."

Towards franchising the model
This virtuous model seems convincing, since a farm six times bigger than this one is currently under construction near Pau. "We have launched a second round of fundraising to roll out the model on a large scale. Eventually, the idea is to develop a chain of farms and be able to offer franchising of the model. Our aim is to create a local, sustainable, agro-ecological production system that complements the existing chains."

For more information:
Félix Haget

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