Dr. James Rakocy is often considered the father of modern aquaponics. But how did he get here, and what convinced him that aquaponics was the answer to many of the world’s problems? Here is the exciting tale of the inventor of aquaponics!
As a child growing up in the United States in the 1950’s, Rakocy had a passion for fishing, ornamental fish breeding and gardening. This led him to undertake a degree in Zoology, following which he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Sierra Leone. It was here that he noticed the tropical soil was lacking in nutrients and organic matter and was unable to produce abundant crops. He noticed considerable malnutrition in the country, which led him to an interest in food production.
He went on to do a Masters degree in Environmental Biology and a PhD in Aquaculture. He subsequently joined the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) where he strived to develop aquaponic technology. At first his focus was on how he could use Tilapia to reuse water and nutrients, but his focus soon switched to vegetables and herbs. He and his research team invented a model aquaponics system. This went on to produce 45kg of food in 4.5 months. They made further models and experimented to find the best method.
By 1999, they had perfected the technique and it was time to share their knowledge with the world. They launched a training program to teach 566 students from across the US as well as 56 other countries. Aquaponics popularity has grown and grown, but in developing countries it was still largely unheard of.
India is now starting to take notice, and at Aquaponics In India we hope to bring this incredible and highly sustainable food production technique into the mainstream.