World Aquaculture Society Meetings

Add To Calendar 29/04/2016 11:10:0029/04/2016 11:30:00America/ChicagoAsian-Pacific Aquaculture 2016AQUAPONICS AS ''DEUS EX MACHINA'' FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN GREECE   Crystal 5The World Aquaculture Societyjohnc@was.orgfalseanrl65yqlzh3g1q0dme13067DD/MM/YYYY


Nikoleta Ntalamagka*
*Genecology Research Centre, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

It is generally agreed that Greece has experienced an economic crisis on the scale of the US Great Depression of the 1930s. Daily, many Greeks are finding themselves unemployed and even homeless. The unemployment rate in Greece has risen to 26%. 30% of the Greek population lives below the poverty line and 17 % of the people are unable to meet their daily food needs. According to the NGO FEANTSA, up to 15,000 people in Athens are homeless. Hundreds of thousands rely on soup kitchens or other facilities run by municipalities, churches, charities or NGOs. On top of that, thousands of refugees are pouring into Greece every day and the economy is still sputtering. The population of refugees in the country is currently estimated to be about 42,000. People are living in emergency shelters, abandoned buildings or refugee camps. With no land for agriculture or gardening, it is almost impossible to produce any food domestically, creating a massive dependence on external aid which is extremely limited for both Greeks and refugees.

The development of sustainable aquaponics solutions to alleviate malnutrition and improve the lives of people both inside and outside of the camps could be an effective solution to these issues. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, which involves the farming of fish in water, and hydroponics, which involves growing plants in water. Aquaponics removes the need for fertile ground as it can be employed anywhere, even on a rooftop. Due to its recirculating nature, an aquaponics system is extremely water efficient and also a very space efficient means of fresh food production. The Aquaculture Without Frontiers could establish Aquaculture Learning Centres in collaboration with Greek universities. The AwF group could give lessons to refugees or Greeks in need on how to construct aquaponics systems and culture their own food. Many emergency shelters, monasteries, churches, schools or universities could supply space for the construction of simple systems for covering the basic nutritional needs of the homeless and refugees.

Moreover, COST Action FA1305, is an effort to promote aquaponics research and development in the EU in collaboration with expert scientists from academia and industry and engineers, economists, aquaculturists and horticulturalists. Greece is one of the countries that participate in COST Action FA1305 and could create a collaboration between AwF and the working groups of the programme. Students of schools and universities could participate in the programme with the advantage of gaining extra knowledge and learning about the importance of volunteerism and philanthropism. Furthermore, plenty of monasteries are self-sustainable by producing vegetables and meat. The monks could share their knowledge and learn skills that could relieve the hunger of many people living in extreme poverty.

Last but not least, plenty of people in Greece are willing to help refugees and the poor and have already offered their services. Volunteers or donors will be very soon available, especially if AwF strategically increase awareness about the importance of the creation of aquaponics in selected centres. Aquaponics could not only enhance food security, but also they could offer to refuges and Greeks in need the opportunity to make something with their hands, and give them a sense of accomplishment.

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