Chaya Nayak Update on Sweet Water Growing Networks Kerela India Project

We have received substantial interest and support from many organizations here in Kerala, including the equivalent of a mayor (which got us featured in a Malayalam newspaper!), the Kerala agriculture university, various radio stations, and above all significant interest from one of India’s largest corporations that has a cooperative business structure with rural farmers across India!

Thus far we have spent the last two weeks acclimating the students to India, as well as finding the best way to integrate and coordinate with the Indian students at St. Alberts College in Cochin. The professor at St. Alberts is so supportive of this project that he cancelled his students lectures so that they could fully support us in the construction of the aquaponics system. What is most exciting to me about this program is the fact that many Indian students are commenting that this is the first time they have gotten to learn in an interdisciplinary manner, as well as “learn by doing.”

Today the students are venturing out into the market and sourcing materials, as well as interviewing community members to understand the social understanding/ concern for the environment/ food system. Building of the aquaponics system will start on Wednesday, and we hope to have the system up and running by next week. We are ending this project with a workshop in which over 200 St. Alberts students and various professionals from all around India will congregate to learn more about aquaponics.

Overall I am very excited with this project and feel that it is opening the floodgates to the beginning of an aquaponics movement in India.

Please enjoy the pictures on our facebook page!

Also, take a look at our website:

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Report on Sweet Water Growing Networks Kerela India Project From Indian Newspaper

Some African Asian Euro Enterprisers in Urban Agriculture

Aquaculture and Aquaponcis

Started by Bas de Groot, Owner Walden21

Dear Bas,

You might want to forward your request or the complete survey to William Leschen from Stirling University. He coordinates our EU programme on urban aquaculture in Africa (SARNISSA) and previously the Asian urban aquaculture programme (PAPUSSA).
Sarnissa has a francophone and english mailinglist as well, with lots of very helpful members. Possibly, the mailing list can be accessed publicly as well, via Will’s contact details are:

Best wishes,
By Dorine Ruter, Adviseur / procesbegeleider at ETC Adviesgroep

Sweet Water Organics India Connections

Dear James,

Hope things are going great at your end.

While I was surfing net for Aquaponics, I landed on your below webpage which prompted me to mail you.

I am eager to start an aquaponic-system, at a small level, in my village, southern part of India. The idea is to study the pros/cons of the system and also teach the local population to take up the project for food sustainability. There are lot of farmers who are committing suicides due to investments in the traditional crops and lac of returns, while few are migrating to desert land (Middle Eastern countries) in search of mean jobs, just to support their families back home.

However, the major hinderences to go ahead with it are:
1) lac of continuous power supply to run the motor for pumping effluent to water beds.
2) lack of availabiliy of info to rear which variety of fish that suits the aquaponic-system, I understand Tilapia is most suited, but I am sure it is not there already in the place where I am planning.

I also managed to get a good amount of info on the subject and feel comfortable to work on it. However, I need some expert guidance on it.

I would appreciate if you can reply back with more info and details that could be of further help to take this project forward.

The idea of cooperative of fish, vegetable and herb producers is good though.

BTW, I presently live in Dubai and planning to visit my place during May on vacation, when I can do the ground work and plan to shift completely in next 2–3 yrs.

Have a Nice & Cheerful Day

Rajpal Rao M

Mobile: +971–50–3836619

Sweet Water forwarded this note to some of the world’s top aquaponics scientists and practioners. read their welcome responses

From: Clyde S Tamaru <>

Hi James and there are some real challenges for setting up these kinds of systems particularly where they are power challenges and limited access to materials. We are so spoiled and take for granted many of what we have…Most of the info on the web is going to be geared for systems that have advance equpment and supplies, e.g., tanks, pumps, solar panels, etc. that we can just buy off the shelf. I imagine this not going to be the case where this gentleman is going.

There is however things around that they might try and it will combine what we know about static hydroponics and aquaculture. The static hydroponic stuff (Kratky publications) relies on formulated nutrient mixes that can be purchased. I am not sure this is going to be an option available to the gentleman. If not then growing fish produces water containing much of the nutrients (NOT ALL AND IN THE RIGHT AMOUNTS THOUGH) and you can still combine static hydroponics and aquaculture if you are willing to do some things by hand like bucketing the water from the fish tank into the grow beds.

I have attached a manuscript that you can share with folks and just came out of work done with my colleague here at UH Manoa. The aquaponic system is operated by having the water used to culture fish (tilapia) bucketed by hand and you can read about the results. Also goes into detail about constructing the grow beds from scratch and can be used for ideas and when in country they will have to be resourceful on substituting items that they cannot get locally.

There is still a need for power to aerate the fish tank if tilapia is the target species. The alternative is to use fish species that are air breathers and not sure if freshwater of the genus Clarias that are being cultured might fit the bill. Anyway that is something to look for.. There is a need to keep the culture of fish in the shade so that a suitable amount of nitrogenous waste is produced in the water. Likewise, there is going to be a need for a source of chelated iron and maganese and we are so spoiled because we can just go online or go to the store and buy the stuff. I imagine the person will not be able to do that where he is going and something we have been toying with here at UH Manoa is using compost tea. I have attached a separate manuscript from another colleague (Radovich) also here at the university. He is working with vermicompost and the compost tea that can be made and is what has tweaked our interest as aquaponics users. It has the iron and maganese that is also necessary for plant growth and the best is that you can make it on your own as long as you have access to compost and water. You will still have to manually aerate the compost tea if there is not access to power. We are only beginning the testing at the moment so can not give you specifics yet but from what we can see on paper anyway and how to use it is being tested as we speak..

Anyway hope these help.

Clyde S. Tamaru
Aquaculture Specialist
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering
1955 East-West Road, Ag. Science 218
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: 808–342–1063

Click here for Kratky 2003 Static Hydroponic Cucumbesr in Trash Container.pdf
Click here for Kratky 2003 Static Hydroponic Cucumbesr in Trash Container.pdf
Click here for Kratky Wheel Garden Cucumber, LettuceKale, Water Cress Sytems.pdf
Click here for Radovich Compost Test Impacts.pdf

From: Glen Martinez

I will give it a go.

I will refer him to Aquaculturehub and Aquaculture in Paradise. If you guys know of any other good blog resources please pass them on.

I am trying to write up my experiences and lessons in Aquaponics, via publishing an electronic book which you can fine in our STORE on the It is being offered for FREE for the time being. So feel free to check it out and comment or make suggestions.



From: Thomas Knoll

Hello all and Rajpal,

Sorry for this late addition to the discussion. I’ve been busy out in a village installing a liner and pvc onto our first aquaponics system here in India - Darewadi, about 3.5 hours north-east of Pune - in a scrambling lead-up to a visit to this site this week by the German President [and former IMF Head] Horst Kohler and a cohort of about 30 members of the German press corps. He will be looking at the whole site which has an innovative micro-farming model, not just our aquaponics system, but it’s good publicity nonetheless.

First, I haven’t seen any responses from Charlie Price in this thread. If he has added something, then please forgive me. If not, however, it’s probably because he’s so busy just having gotten back from Uganda and Kenya where he was doing great work setting up some systems. I bring him up because he’s been so helpful and knowledgeable for our work here. I’ve attached a pdf of some photos that he forwarded of the system he set up in Kampala, Uganda just a few weeks ago. It’s a very basic system and probably a real good one to start with if you haven’t done this before.

I’ve also attached a photo from the development of our first system here - the first of five in a pilot project with the Watershed Organization Trust [].

I’d like to just copy and insert here some information from a message I got back from Charlie a few months ago in response to our work here. I found it really helpful and I think it could be informative for you, Rajpal:

1. Ultimately [the system] is a question of three elements:

1 aquaculture, 2 filtration/solids removal, and 3 hydroponics.

However in media filled growbeds (gravel, clay pebbles etc) the filtration can be combined with the hydroponic growing element, whereas in larger systems the components tend to be compartmentalized into fish tanks, separate solids removal, and then hydroponics on floating rafts above deep water circulation (which is why solids need to be removed prior to this to ensure they don’t clog roots etc)

In terms of the training curriculum we can be of lots of assistance there with expertise in participatory research techniques such as PRA, PCA, RRA, and household surveys, we have also in the past developed pictorial multilingual guides to aquaculture and IPM training, so the same could easily be replicated for aquaponics. AS I said before I’m always here to help, and have a great deal of resources available to me, providing we have funds available (which I’ll get to later)

2. In terms of system inputs these can be categorised as:

1 time (for maintenance, feeding, planting and harvesting),
2 energy either electrical or manual (for pumping water round the system),
3 light (depending on region supplementary lighting probably wouldn’t be required),
4 water (the system should be able to operate at very low water input rates, 1–5% per day) which can often be supplemented by rainwater seasonally.
5 Costs (this needs to be factored in, but I think that low tech is going to be the way, with manually constructed growbeds, raised above a sunken “pond”, then water either manually pumped using a bilge type pump (or a pedal powered one that I’m working on) then water gravity draining back into the pond. We could easily look to replacing the manual pump with an automated one run of mains/battery or solar depending on your site specific scenario. So costs for the system are going to need to be looked into and depends on how much local materials would cost. I think the main cost would be incurred in designing a range of different scaled systems, and allocating inventories and costings to each using locally sourced price data (would be my recommended first step)

3. In terms of the logistical difficulties, I prefer to see them as challenges J. They always exist but by their very specific nature they depend more of the specific site, its infrastructure, the communities involved, their social dynamics and hierarchies and a whole host of other issues. But all can be overcome with good planning, appropriate preliminary research (which I guess a lot of has already been done) and having well motivated and clued up staff. In short it’s all possible.

I would add that in our project here, we had a lot of discussion with villagers and farmers about what kind of fish they are used to and what they would eat. Although Tilapia are indeed well suited to the system, we will be using a catfish variety in our systems because everyone here eats catfish and no one knew what Tilapia was!

One of the challenges we’ve come up against is the cost of fish food. It’s not a big constraint. However, we will be experimenting with a manual meat mincer, grinding and drying different combinations of organic matter - with some specific, nutrient additives - to create our own, village-prepared fish-feed.

Power - electric or solar - has definitely been an issue moreso for purposes of aeration than pumping water. In this region, everyone is familiar with hand and foot [treadle] pumps and we will be using this technology in our systems.

Another thing I’d like to add in response to your mention of the spate of farmer suicides in India [over 180,000 in the last 15 years!] is that while the fish will eventually become a significant livelihood support, of equal significance is the system’s ability to produce high-quality vegetables that require lots of water. This is a drought-prone, rain-fed region. Every year for at least two months, the availability of things like tomatoes and cucumbers goes way down and their price in the market goes up almost six times the normal price! From a strict food security perspective, we are looking closely at the system’s ability to address seasonal food insecurity and micro-nutrient deficiencies faced by the most marginal - pregnant women, children under five and the elderly. However, once the system is up and running, it is clear that it will move families from seasonal food insecurity to income-generating, protein and vegetable surplus, and we think it will restore hope to a lot of people who have been struggling mightily with bare existence.

You said, in your original e-mail, that you could use some expert guidance or help. I want to give you the contact information for a man from Australia named Paul Keen. He is a certified Permaculture Designer [as am I] who has worked quite a bit on aquaponics systems. He has been in India working on different alternative agriculture projects for a while now and he could very well be interested in working with you.

Here is his information:
PHONE: +61433322814


Skype: ringo4242

As far as more formal, authoritative bodies in the field of fisheries here in India, I would suggest the following:

Indian Council of Agricultural Research [ICAR]
Fisheries Division
Dr. S. Ayyappan,
Deputy Director General (Fisheries)

Division of Fisheries, Krishi Anusandhan Bhawan - II, New Delhi - 110 012 INDIA

Phone: 91–11–25846738, 91–11–25842284/85/62/70/71 Ext. 1309 Fax: 91–11–25841955

National Fisheries Development Board

Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India

Blocks 401 - 402, Maitri Vihar, HUDA Commercial Complex,

Ameerpet, Hyderabad - 500 038,
Andhra Pradesh, India.

Tel: + 91 - 040 - 2373 7256;
Fax: + 91 - 040 - 2373 7208


Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute
Barrackpore (HQ)
The Director
Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute
Monirampur (Post)
Kolkata, West Bengal - 700 120
Phone: 91–033–25921190/25921191
Fax: 91–033–25920388

The Officer-in-charge
24 Pannalal Road,
Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute
Allahabad - 211002, UTTAR PRADESH
Phone : Off. : 0532 2460531, 2461529
Fax : 0532 2460531
E-mail :

The Officer-in-charge
Reservoir Division
Hessarghatta Lake P.O.,
Bangalore-560 089 Karnataka Ph. 080–28446428

The Officer-in-charge
North Eastern Regional Centre of CIFRI,
Housefed Complex, Central Building,
4th Floor, Beltola Basistha Road,
Dispur, Guwahati 781006, ASSAM
Phone : Off. : 0361 228486
Fax : 0361 228486 E-mail :

The Officer-in-charge
Vadodara Centre of CIFRI
B-12, Hans Society, Harney Road,
Vadodara-390 022, Gujarat.

The Officer-in-charge
Kochin Centre of CIFRI
Ernakulam North P.O, Kochin - 682 018.

Kolkata Centre
The Officer-in-charge
Kolkata Centre of CIFRI
CGO Complex, (2nd floor, C-Wing),
DF Block, Salt Lake,

Central Institute of Fisheries Technology
CIFT Junction, Willingdon Island

Matsyapuri P.O., Cochin-682 029, Kerala

Ph: 0484–2666845 (14 lines); Fax: 091–484–2668212



Research Centre of Central Institute of Fisheries Technology

CIDCO Administrative Bldg.
(Ground Floor) Sector-1
Navi Mumbai 400 703
Ph: 022–27826017
Fax: 022 27827413


Over the past year, I’ve collected tons of information on Aquaponics Resources in India, so I want you to feel free to contact me at any time about any of it. I am happy to help in whatever way possible. Of particular interest to you may be participatory methodologies for initiating project ownership among villagers and farmers and, when you get to this stage, business development -particularly cooperative fisheries development - approaches, including business planning, market realities and investor contacts here in India for rural fisheries development.

In addition to pictures of Charlie’s Uganda system and a photo of our initial system [it doesn’t look like much yet, just the tank and frame], I’ve also attached a short article on Fish-Based Mixed Farming Strategies in India that may be useful and a good article on making your own Fish Feeds.

I hope this will all be of some help and, again, feel free to contact me at any time.

Lastly, I should say for all present on this correspondence that we would not be in contact like this were it not for the tremendous effort of Godsil who is truly evolving an international forum for people like us on a topic and in a field that - as I am seeing on a first-hand basis right here - has the potential to significantly change lives for the better.

Peace and Love,

Tom Knoll
Pathways To Empowerment
Click here for Kampala system.pdf
Click here for LEISA-FishBasedMixedFarming*.pdf
Click here for Preparing Farm-Made Fish Feeds.pdf

Rajpal Responds

Dear Knoll,

Thank you for your much informative email and the contacts. I am checking in the market for a solar pump that can store backup power for 3–4 days and work continuously and the feasibility of using it in the system. As I am planning to go to India in the month of May, I have some time to study and equip myself with the required the info.

I shall keep mailing to you all for further guidance on the issue.

BTW, I came across a pump that works on air displacement, i.e. compressed air water pump which is demonstrated in Equador, how do you see its usage? However, it again needs a air compressor and thus electricity.

Have a Nice & Cheerful Day

Rajpal Rao M

Mobile: +971–50–3836619

From Charlie Price

HI everyone, firstly to Godsil for the intro.. and secondly to tom for your well rounded response.

Just really to say hello and that I am following the thread with interest. In answer to the most recent question raised by Rajpal: solar should not be a problem at all, we are playing with some systems here in the uk and plan to get a solar system operational in Kenya later in the year. The main problems are really capital cost, and I don’t really see an eventuality where you would need to store 3–4days power, it’s more a case of storing enough excess during the day to cover the night… (assuming the sun comes up again the following day…and for that matter if it didn’t the plants would die anyway:o)

In terms of the air lift pump you described, they are great at using low energy, but they can only lift water at low heads (eg 10–20cms ish) and like you said the compressor/blower needs electricity anyway.

As tom rightly pointed out a treadle/foot pump is a effective solution, but means introducing a header and a sump tank so sometimes isn’t feasible or advantageous over another option. (we built a foot pump powered system at the Haller Foundation’s Baobab trust in December, and so the verdict is yet out as to whether it will stand the test of time.

Other than that, we are hoping to develop a strong working partnership with Tom and all his organisation is doing over in India, and are hoping to get out there this spring to help mover things forward. So please if anyone has any questions at all please fire them over, not saying we have the answers but with a huge amount of expertise at our disposal through the institute, chances are we can find someone who has…

Best wishes to you all

Charlie Price - Director
Aquaponics UK
Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling
mob: +44 (0)7545 817206

Bands of Army Bloggers Building Fisheries?

Leading With Two Minds
Published: May 6, 2010

They say that intellectual history travels slowly, and by hearse. The old generation has to die off before a new set of convictions can rise and replace entrenched ways of thinking. People also say that a large organization is like an aircraft carrier. You can move the rudder, but it still takes a long time to turn it around.

Yet we have a counterexample right in front of us. Five years ago, the United States Army was one sort of organization, with a certain mentality. Today, it is a different organization, with a different mentality. It has been transformed in the virtual flash of an eye, and the story of that transformation is fascinating for anybody interested in the flow of ideas.

Gen. David Petraeus, who had an important role, spoke about the transformation while accepting the Irving Kristol Award Thursday night from the American Enterprise Institute. I spoke to him and others about the process this week.

The transformation began amid failure. The U.S. was getting beaten in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Captains and colonels were generally the first to see this, but only a few knew how to respond. Those who did tended to have dual personalities. That is, they had been steeped in Army culture but also in some other, often academic, culture. Petraeus had written a dissertation on Vietnam at Princeton. H.R. McMaster, then a colonel, had also written a book on Vietnam. Others were autodidacts and had studied the counterinsurgency tactics that had been used in Malaysia, Algeria and El Salvador.

They’d been trained to use overwhelming force to kill bad guys. They’d been trained to see terrorists as members of networks, almost like computer networks, and to focus on disrupting the nodes where networks joined. But in the theater they sometimes saw that the more force you unleashed, the more enemies you generated. The network metaphor could be misleading because it ignored geography, the importance of holding ground.

Dissenters, nicknamed COINdinistas, arose, but it was hit or miss. (COIN is military-speak for counterinsurgency.) There was no overarching Army doctrine. In 2005, Petraeus left Iraq and was sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to write a counterinsurgency field manual.

After Vietnam, there had been a tendency in the Army to regard the news media and academia with suspicion. But at their seminars, the COINdinistas welcomed academics, journalists and human rights activists.

A university is structured differently than the Army, but the COINdinistas adapted. Their magazine, Military Review, became a military version of Partisan Review in the 1950s. They sponsored essay contests. When the British Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster wrote a scathing takedown of U.S. counterinsurgency practices, it was not only published, but distributed among the brass.

The manual, published in December 2006, celebrated paradoxes like, “Sometimes, the more you protect your force, the less secure you may be.” It codified best practices, but it still faced opposition — from generals who wanted a light footprint in Iraq, from others who wanted to keep blasting away without getting mucked up in community-building.

Petraeus and others had to go on a base-to-base campaign tour, selling the approach, especially down the chain of command. Many people join the Army to kill bad guys, not to build fisheries. The COINdinistas had to persuade them to get out of their trucks and wear less body armor. Soldiers often became receptive on their second or third tours of duty, after they’d killed plenty of insurgents without result, and seen buddies lose limbs.

Then there was the institutionalization process. Some of the training programs were still preparing soldiers for tank battles or big urban warfare. They were scrapped. A course at Artillery School at Fort Sill in Oklahoma was shut down because the students, back from Iraq, knew more than the instructors.

In the new courses, officers practiced negotiating with “sheiks.” Bands of bloggers were set up to help those in Iraq and Afghanistan share information with those about to deploy. Gen. Ray Odierno adjusted the balance between combat and community operations.

There are still gaps, but now when you talk to soldiers, you see that the counterinsurgency doctrine has been bred into their bones. Now some say that the approach codified at Fort Leavenworth has become so dominant that it is actually stifling innovation. This is a complete intellectual sea change.

The process was led by these dual-consciousness people — those who could be practitioners one month and then academic observers of themselves the next. They were neither blinkered by Army mind-set, like some of the back-slapping old guard, nor so removed from it that their ideas were never tested by reality, like pure academic theoreticians.

It’s a wonder that more institutions aren’t set up to encourage this sort of alternating life. Business schools do it, but most institutions are hindered by guild customs, by tenure rules and by the tyranny of people who can only think in one way.

Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by Tyler Schuster and Commonwealth Citizen.  Page last modified on June 15, 2012

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