By growing plants and rearing fish in the same space, this Hyderabad based startup optimises water use
“This planet was a gift to us from our ancestors. It should be our gift to future generations at least in the same manner as it was given to us, if not in a better way.”
We are responsible for safeguarding and efficiently using the resources we have been blessed with.
Fishy Farmers is an organization that believes exactly this. Their idea is to use water as efficiently as possible to grow crops. They cultivate fish in a system where the nutrient-rich water from fish waste is utilized for growing crops. They aim to help farmers by tying up with them and providing them with a stable income through this system.
Sai Krishna, the co-founder of Fishy Farmers says, “We are at 90% efficiency level now in using the water.”
The idea of their system has its origins in a technique called Aquaponics. It is a form of agriculture that combines raising fish in tanks (recirculating aquaculture) with soil-less plant culture (hydroponics). In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water from growing fish provides a natural fertilizer for the plants and the plants help to purify the water for the fish. Thus there is a mutually supportive, symbiotic, relationship between the plants and the fish.
Fishy Farmers has been set up over an area of approximately 3000 square feet with 3000 plants and 600 kg of fish. This cost about Rupees nine lakhs for the initial investment on the infrastructure. Sai Krishna is grateful for his friends who helped fund this idea. He says this would not have been possible without them.
An electrical engineer, Sai Krishna never thought he would be farming for a living one day. He initially worked in a chemical factory, but the punishing 16 hour days at work changed his mind and he decided to take up agriculture. Initially, he thought this would give him some time for himself and that agriculture was easy to work. As he talks about their failed experiments and future plans, he laughs at his older self who thought this was going to be a cakewalk.
The two co-founders undertook a thorough study of the field before starting the company. They underwent courses on aquaponics and aquaculture. For this system, it is important to understand the behavior of the fish, because taking care is different from maintenance. They set up an experimental system with 50 different crops to determine which of them were symbiotically related to the fish. There have been a few failures in their journey. However, that did not deter them from discovering what crops worked for them. They also realized that the only running cost for this system would be for the fish feed as there is no need for any chemicals or pesticides in this work. At the same time, there is heavy demand for such produce in the city and they are confident that they would be able to cater to this demand.
The future is bright and full of hope for Fishy Farmers. They plan to set up a temperature-controlled greenhouse for their crops as the weather plays a big role in farming in a city like Hyderabad. They plan to establish and use a solar-powered system to tackle the existing electricity woes and also to avail of a few government subsidies available to organizations that use solar power. Also, they plan to increase the capacity of their farm as it can be done without increasing the land area.
This gives them immense satisfaction as is obvious when Sai Krishna signs off saying, “I don’t want to go home when I am doing this.” Fishy Farmers holds immense potential and its founders have a dauntless spirit that will make this planet a better place to live, one step at a time.