Liberia’s Gets First AQUAPONICS from UNMIL, FFDC
Monrovia – It is white perforated structure, made from nylon or rubber-net, measuring 13 meters in width and 26 meters in length.
Its floor, 1.3 meters above ground level, is of corrugated concrete built from more than three hundred bags of cement, according an official of one of the organizations that sponsored the construction.
Two water basins, made from cement, containing white ‘nursery beds’ for plants, stretch along with the length of the white ‘farm’. The total number of nursery beds is 64.
The nursery beds, each with a small black plastic cups with a sprouting plant, sit over water pumped from a black 1,500-gallon tank in the ‘control room’ attached to the ‘farm’.
During a tour of the ‘farm’, two wooden tables, painted white, were stationed opposite the entrance of the facility. Both tables contained a total of 1, 848 smaller black cups containing food for the fish, to be hand-sprayed onto the water below the white nursery beds.
This ‘farm’ is called Aquaponics, defined as the “combination of Aquaculture (fish farming) and Hydroponics (growing of plants in water)”
Construction of the Aquaponics was done by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (Missions), working through the Faimaba Fisheries Development Cooperatives, Inc. (FFDC), a private Liberian organization, as one of two UNMIL’s implementing partners in the Liberian fishery sector.
The project’s title is “Enhancing Conflict Prevention and Peace Consolidation through Increased Food Security in the Fishery Sector”
The dedicatory ceremony of the Aquaponics was held at the D-Twe High School in the Borough of New Kru Town, on Saturday, June 9, 2018.
The School’s premises is host to the Aquaponics.
On the Opening Prayer for the program, the Senior Pastor of the Emmanuel Temple Independent Pentecostal Church, Elder Felix Nah Tiepoh, said the construction of the Aquaponics was from “talent” of the builder, which most Liberian leader does not have.
In her Welcome Remark, the Governor of the Borough of New Kru Town, Madam Alice B. Weah, said the space being occupied by the Aquaponics was given by the Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), Mr. Benjamin Jacobs.
Speaking for the student body of the D-Twe High School, student Richmond Wleh, of the 12th grade class, remarked: “My school has made history by hosting Liberia’s first Aquaponics facility on the school’s premises.”
Giving the Overview of the Aquaponics construction, the Executive Director of FFDC, Mr. Edwin Bonar, said the Borough of New Kru Town was chosen for the construction due to the presence of a vibrant fishing community in the place and New Kru Town’s strategic location in Liberia’s capital.
“It took us two months to get this space hosting the Aquaponics, after being blocked or discouraged by land issues, flood, or alleys in other places we had gone,” Mr. Bonar enumerated.
The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) said the Aquaponics is the first of its kind in the history of Liberia, especially for the MoA since it was founded on May 11, 1972.
“Liberia spends US430M on importation of fish each year,” said Mr. Alvin C. Wisseh, Assistant Minister, Department of Regional Development and Extension (DRDRE), Ministry of Agriculture, representing the Minister of Agriculture, Moganna Flomo.
“Why should the country spend such amount when we have the Atlantic Ocean around the country and plenty rivers and creeks across the country?” the MoA’s representative added.
He said the MoA strongly believes that the Aquaponics in Liberia will drastically reduce the country’s reliance on importation of fish for mass consumption.
“Aquaponics is a new technology in Africa, especially in Liberia,” Mr. William Y. Boeh, Deputy Director General for Technical Services of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), said.
UNMIL’s representative, Mr. Kofi Ireland, advised the local partners on UNMIL’s fishery-related projects to establish a management structure that would effectively monitor the projects. “UNMIL won’t come back to Liberia to monitor these projects,” he cautioned.
The Board Chair of FFDC, Mr. Yezewuo Zubah, said the Aquaponics will produce 60, 000 metric tons of fish each year, and will produce vegetables throughout the year—during dry season or rainy season. “The Aquaponics uses 91% less water,” he said.
He advised D-Twe High student to make use of the Aquaponics on their campus, beside their respective occupational interests.
The Music Madrid, a mouth-and-drum band, based in New Kru Town, took up the musical interlude of the program. Their selection was of the fishery sector. One stanza of the song appeals to fishermen to stop fighting on sea, another commands fishermen to obey fishing rules, and another verse warns fishermen against stealing on sea, as a way to avoid confusion.
For the construction of the Aquaculture facility in Liberia, UNMIL had hired the Environment Aquaponics Technology (EAT), a company founded by a Briton named Jonathan Ayre, based in the Republic of Cyprus.
“With this facility, Aquaponics, you can grow fish and plants together both living on a food called conoil—obtained from the husk of a coconut,” Mr. Ayre announced to the gathering of Liberians.
Explaining the symbiotic relationship between the plant (vegetable) and fish in the Aquaponics, he said the plant will depend on the fish’s feces (nitrate) to grow, and the fish will eat the plant to grow.
After his remarks, Mr. Ayre took the Liberians on a tour of the Aquaponics.
Supervising construction of the Aquaponics was one of FFDC’s responsibilities in the fishery partnership agreement signed with UNMIL. The partnership was expected to last four months in 2018: January-April. April. Another task is training of artisanal fishermen in Liberian and abroad.
According to official report, UNMIL had pumped seven hundred thousand United States dollars (US$700, 000) into its fishery project in Liberia, and has restricted each of its nation-building operations on the platform of peace since its arrival in Liberia in 2003.
Report by Samuel G. Dweh, Freelance Journalist