In August 2017, after joining the Facebook group of Bangladesh Fisheries Community, I learned about two days long training program/ workshop on aquaponics (the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics) under the supervision of Dr M. A. Salam, Professor from Aquaculture Department at Bangladesh Agricultural University, and interested people were invited to contact there.
I was quite curious before this training because I wondered how plants could be grown without soil but water! I used to watch “Hridoye Mati o Manush” (focuses on the agricultural sector of Bangladesh) TV show. From there, I have experienced the success of agri-entrepreneurs in my country, and that inspired me to do the training.
The trainer Dr Salam announced the date of the workshop after Eid al-Adha in 2017. I started preparing myself for the upcoming program.
My friend, Imran Hossain, a student of Bangladesh Agricultural University, was well aware of my arrival on 22 September 2017 at his university. He accompanied me to attend the workshop.
Most of the trainees were from different professions such as business, banking corporates, and also students from different universities. I found the majority were youth trainees. The session started with Dr Salam’s representation of aquaponics. He showed how aquaponics harnesses the power of bio-integrating components: fishes eat and produce waste, which acts as the perfect fertilizer for growing plants. Thus, he explained the relationship between water, aquatic life, bacteria, nutrients, and plants which grow together in aquaponics.
After finishing the session, we all went together on the roof of Dr Salam’s house. Going there, we observed how aquaponics works. Then Dr Salam took us all along the banks of the Brahmaputra river.
The next day, on 23 September, we, the trainees, were divided into several groups. Then the group-based trainees were given colour papers and some colour markers, rulers and pencils. Each group was instructed to demonstrate the mechanism of some methods of aquaponics in front of the audience. My group got the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) method to demonstrate. After drawing the picture, two people from each group made their presentation. At the end of the presentation period, we got a detailed idea of training from Dr Salam.
After lunch, I thought Dr Salam would conclude the training by distributing our certificates. But to our surprise, he took away our mind by starting a new discussion about wheatgrass. Initially, the matter seemed blurry to me, but with the depth of his discussion, we could understand exactly what the wheatgrass is! The discussion began with the usefulness of wheatgrass as medicine to many disorders of humans, feed of poultry and livestock. The more I saw the different functions of the wheatgrass, the more I was surprised.
Indeed, in this world, everything seems to remain still unexplored by human beings. In particular, due to the abundance of various minerals and nutrients with the dry matter, other foods seemed to be nutritionally lacking (!) compared to wheatgrass. Dr Salam expressed his opinion about wheatgrass juice, also shared with us what he had been experiencing by eating this juice. He said that he conducted an experiment and found that after feeding broiler with wheat grass in the food, the meat was considered as a native chicken, and it was observed to be almost the same taste. At the end of the discussion of wheat grass, volunteers started bringing certificates for the trainees and I received a certificate from Dr Salam like other trainees.
After completing the training, a few months later I got connected with the trainees via Facebook group and found that they started to set up their aquaponic garden. The interesting fact is, they came out successful and they got expected a yield of vegetables (e.g., brinjal, tomato, capsicum, broccoli, red amaranth, etc.) and fishes (e.g., tilapia, catfish, etc.) At present, they are working on expanding their aquaponic garden. People around them are getting inspired to do aquaponics at their home. Well, I have planned to initiate my aquaponic garden after my graduation completion at the end of 2019. Shortly, I will focus on expanding my aquaponic garden.
Photo credit: Nur e Kutubul Alam