IN an effort to fight crime and encourage persons to become more self sufficient, the government yesterday launched an aquaponics project in La Romaine,San Fernando.
Attending the launch was Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj.
The aquaponics programme falls under the ministry's Sustainable Food Production Programme and involves four ministries including the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of the People and Social Development.
Maharaj explained the aquaponics project.
He said: "Fish reared in tanks produce nutrients that are nourishing for plants. This is channeled from the fish tanks to the plants. The plants absorb the nutrients, the debris is filtered and the cleansed water goes back into the fish tanks.In addition to fish, a wide range of produce can be grown from the aquaponics system such as tomatoes, sweet pepper, cabbage, patchoi and lettuce."
Maharaj said:"It is hoped that this programme will play a crucial role in reducing crime in at-risk urban communities by empowering citizens with an opportunity to not only be self-sufficient but also engage in sustainable entrepreneurial activities rather than turn to a life of crime to earn money."
Last month, 15 residents from La Romaine completed training in aquaponics and as part of the project launch an aquaponics kit was given to the community.
The training provided covered topics areas such as system design, layout and maintenance, fish health and care, plant nutrient requirements and water quality.
Maharaj said the aquaponics demonstration unit used by the County Victoria Office has a production capacity of 60 to 80 pounds of tilapia in six to seven months and five batches of lettuce.
The minister also said there has been a two percent reduction in the estimated $4 billion food import bill from 2010 to 2013.
And he said or the first time since October 2011, food price inflation showed single digits reaching 9.4 percent in April.