wnb

Teach a man to fish

Weekender

IN the heart of Saraklok, in West New Britain (WNB) lies a secret. From the main road, one cannot see or even guess that a fishing project lies stealthily behind the bushes. This project belongs to Luke Mukisa who hails from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. A former New Britain Palm Oil Limited development officer, he has spent the last 26 years in WNB and practically regards himself as a local.
He hit gold when he realized that he could turn a hobby into a revenue making machine.
With a degree in Science and Agriculture, Mukisa was inspired after he laid eyes upon Urban Farming Limited’s model set up at 9 mile in Port Moresby.
With his love for fishing, he jumped at the chance and the rest is history. With technical support and mentoring by the Urban Farming Limited, Mukisa invested a small portion of his seven hectare Oil Palm block at Saraklok towards a fish pond.
His inland fish farm is a project consisting of two different models – the plastic fish pond and the tank model- both using a smart water system to maintain consistency in each operation.
Water is supplied to a tank that is buried halfway underground. Using gravitational force; the water is pumped to the fish pond and maintained at a required minimum level by the pump installed in the water pipe.
From the pond the water runs through a smaller bio tank that strains the water before supplying the clean water back to the pond. The bio tank does the same job as the plants whose roots also act as a strainer that purifies the water carrying the waste from the fish pond before it is directed back to the fish pond.
So it is a two way thing; the contaminated water enters the garden plot as a fertilizer to sustain the crops; the crops in turn strains the dirty water and uses fish waste and sends off the clean water back to the pond.
The amazing thing about this garden plots is the fact that these food crops depend entirely on the fish pond for survival as they are grown on special rocks and not normal soil as used in our traditional gardening methods. The only thing they feed on is the waste from the fish pond.
The tank system uses a water cycle concept whereby like the pond, it gets its water from the water well.
The water is supplied to the main fish tanks and onto the clarification tank which acts as a strainer that drains the fish waste.
The waste is supplied directly to fertilize food crops while the strained water goes into what is called the gas tank that uses air to circulate and purify the water. From there water is transported to the Bio Filter and the purified water is cycled back to the fish tanks.
Using gravitational force, this water is powered by solar energy during the day and generator at night time and the beauty about this water system is that, not only does it supply the project but it also caters for the Mukisa residence.
This is all the more reason for this project to be seriously considered for the province of West New Britain. The place already boasts a high water table and with the Oil Palm block holders having readily available land, there is no stopping them from venturing into such viable project.
All it needs is the funding support from the Government and donor agencies and the willingness on the people’s part to invest a piece of their land for fish farming.
This fish project comes in a complete package if viewed from a food security perspective. With the El Nino that left the nation greatly affected last year, and the fact that WNB is a disaster-prone province, this concept will go a long way in providing an avenue to sustain the livelihood of families and communities when disaster strikes. It can also contribute meaningfully to complementing the local diet and contribute to poverty alleviation.
This project will ideally provide a subsidiary income opportunity that will effectively ease the burden of hostilities in oil palm blocks by creating an avenue for empowerment and financial independence that will lead to self-reliance.
The Inland Fish Project apart from creating job opportunities for the surrounding communities; has taken the Tribesman Corporative Society of Saraklok on board to drive this project under its umbrella.
This ecofriendly project paves the way forward at this juncture when PNG is ready to diversify its agriculture industry, our oldest traditional means of survival. Except this time it is made even simpler by using one’s own backyard to produce food crops and breed protein.
Apart from that, the fish farm also boasts to have an ideal waste management system that rotates the fish waste to grow crops in this sustainable concept.
The project aims to create wealth through self-empowerment by creating opportunities and encourages local farmers to venture into commercial farming as Small Business Enterprises (SME).
Each pond holds up to 4000 fish. With five ponds a farmer is looking at a total of 20,000 fish while the tank system holds an additional 3000 fish.
Currently breeding Talapia, Mukisa has the intention of expanding his fish farm to include Barramundi and other species. Talapia takes about 4 -6 months to reach maturity.
The Inland Fish Farming has the vision to establish at least eight more models within the area to cater for local markets.
At this stage the project is undergoing a trial and error process to determine improvement and expansion.
This project literally encourages holistic human development and captures the essence of the fish philosophy – Give the man a fish today and he will go hungry tomorrow, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

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