Aquaponics to Boost Acquaculture Output in Oman

13 May 2014, at 1:00am

OMAN- The Agriculture and Fisheries Development Fund (AFDF) plans to introduce an integrated system of aquaponics (agriculture and aquaculture) throughout the country.

Introduced recently in a limited way as a pilot project, aquaponics has been found to be most suitable to Oman, Ahmed Shams al Siyabi, who heads the AFDF’s Technical Section, told the Observer.

Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.

Shedding light on AFDF’s future plans, Al Siyabi said the fund has a programme to cover more people for giving financial and advisory assistance, and to introduce new ideas and techniques in order to improve breeding, farm and fishing activities.

There is also a plan to provide better boats to fishermen so that they can have access to farther places in the sea. The AFDF gives partial and full funds to farmers, breeders, fishermen to start and expand their projects.

Al Siyabi said the Ministry of Finance gives around RO 3.5 million to the AFDF for extending free financial assistance to projects in agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

The projects are spread out from Musandam to Dhofar, including very remote and difficult places like Jabal Abiad in Sharqiyah, and Jabal Akhdhar in Dhakhiliyah. More funds will be available for people everywhere.

In these endeavours, AFDF seeks cooperation from various foreign bodies such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which provides technical cooperation, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), some agencies in Jordan, Morocco, and other countries.

A report released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries last year shows that fish and agricultural production in 2012 increased to RO 462 million in comparison with RO 362.2 million recorded in 2009, as the annual growth average recorded in 2009-2013 was 8.5 per cent and the value of the agricultural production has steadily increased.

Fish production increased from RO 110,700 in 2009 to 142,000 in 2012, which marks a promising growth in the value of production of key sectors. The study indicated that the agricultural sector is a cornerstone of agricultural development and its contribution is significant in increasing the GDP and employment, as the sector has seen a significant increase in the rate of self-sufficiency in agricultural products.