Urban Aquaculture Brings Opportunity Amidst COVID-19 Quarantine
Choose Philippines | May 12, 2020
Story by Joanna Tacason
How to be productive with ample time but scarce resources? This is the question of many amidst the quarantine implemented because of the Covid-19 pandemic, notably when held parallel with the problem of limited food resources.
In Pangasinan, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources - National Integrated Fisheries Development Center, developed a system called “Urban Aquaculture” as a solution for food self-sufficiency and potential profitability. Using an integrated method of farming in an urban setting, you can achieve a valuable yet straightforward food production system for the whole family. This method of farming can be also fun as a hobby for gardening enthusiasts.
Inside the BFAR-NIFTDC compound, they practice Aquaponics, an integrated aquaculture and hydroponic system. With this kind of farming, fish and plant production are symbiotic, requiring minimal amounts of water to be productive. According to Center Chief Dr. Rosario, building a fishpond does not need to be expensive. Plastic liners or used tarpaulin signages can prevent pond water from leaching into the soil. Thus, pond-water that is rich in nutrients can be used to water vegetables alongside your mini-fishpond—no need to apply organic or commercial fertilizer for the plants.
For those with limited space, a “fish condominium” can be an option for culturing catfish or hito. Growing catfish is very suitable for small spaces. You only need empty plastic, freshwater, and the right knowledge about catfish farming. "Ang hito kasi, hindi maselan, hindi siya prone sa fish kill, pwede mo itong paramihin sa container or sa tank lang. Kailangan mo lang ng fresh water. Hindi kasi sila nabubuhay sa brakish or saltwater. Sa freshwater sila nabubuhay. Not unlike sa bangus or shrimp na mas mahirap alagaan, ang hito pakainin mo lang ng tama at iyong water supply okay lang, kasi ung oxygen niya kinukuha niya sa kaniyang atmosphere," explained Dr. Rosario.
According to Dr. Rosario, catfish farming requires an initial stock of 75 to 100 fingerlings per square meter and intensive feeding. Catfish are carnivorous. They can be fed with fresh trash, fish, worms, insects, or kitchen by-products such as chicken entrails. Within three to four months, hito can grow as big as a size weighing 300-400 grams or three in a kilo.
Backyard gardening is another form of urban farming or residential farming which can easily be situated at the rear of a property. "Iyong backyard gardening is very simple, you can use seeds ng mga pinagkainan mong prutas, o mga gulay na pwede mong itanim sa bakuran. Kung wala kang bakuran, pwede kang gumamit ng mga pinaglumaang plastic container. It's for everyday needs," said Dr. Rosario.
Learning to be sustainable and self-reliant is the new normal today and with urban farming, we are empowered to ensure our everyday survival, come what may.