IITA hosts launch of ABiNet; leads proposal on insect-driven aquaponics system
The first aquaponics network in West and Central Africa called the Aquaponics Based-Insects Network (ABiNet) was recently launched at the IITA-Cotonou station. The launch was held 14–18 May during a meeting focused on aquaponics promotion in West and Central Africa and included a write-shop. Participants came from IITA Cameroon and Benin, the University of Douala and the University of Dschang in Cameroon, and the University of Calavi in Benin.
Speaking at the ceremony, IITA Benin Country Representative Manuele Tamò emphasized the alignment of the current initiative with the IITA research strategy on insect food and feed supported by the Deputy Director General, Research for Development, May-Guri Saethre. ABiNet is made of international research centers such as IITA, the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg), and WorldFish, universities, and agripreneurs from West and Central Africa.
The first task assigned to the network was to develop a proposal to respond to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) call on the City Region Food System. On this, the network under the leadership of Rousseau Djouaka, IITA/Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, developed a proposal on the insect-driven aquaponics system, which stands on four main components:
- A fish production component, which generates natural fertilizers (e.g., fish metabolites) for vegetable production.
- A vegetable component, which is connected to the fish component and permanently receives water loaded with nutrients from the fish farming system.
- A Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) rearing component which powers the system by producing enough insect larvae (protein source) for feeding fish and for supplying other satellite systems such as chicken production units.
- A gravitational recycling and rotational water distribution component, which permanently irrigates vegetables and makes the aquaponics system climate smart and less labor demanding even during prolonged dry seasons.
The first draft of the concept note was developed during the write-shop and will be reviewed internally by IITA before submission to SDC.