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    Sunday, May 26, 2019-1:07:33P.M.






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Commercial aquaponics farm on Rota to export vegetables to Guam

A COMMERCIAL aquaponic demonstration production farm on Rota aims to produce vegetables for export to Guam, according to Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research, Extension, & Education Services aquaculture specialist Michael Ogo who was one of the guests of the Rotary Club of Saipan at the Hyatt yesterday.

Michael Ogo
He said NMC-CREES helped the Rota mayor’s office obtain a $270,000 grant from the Office of Insular Affairs to start a commercial aquaponic demonstration farm.

For the first phase, Ogo said five staffers from the mayor’s office underwent training in Hawaii to study aquaponic production.

The second phase involves constructing the demonstration facility which Ogo said they are doing now, and the third phase is to start producing leafy vegetables and then export them to Guam.

Aquaponics, according to Ogo, was developed in the CNMI to help farmers reduce the cost of production.

“We introduced aquaponics after realizing that a lot of our tilapia and agricultural farmers had problems with production, basically with costs and electricity, so we looked into how we could assist these farmers to reduce production costs,” Ogo said.

He said aquaponics is “the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics — it means different things to different people but it’s basically about growing fish and vegetables in a symbiotic system. It is fish and plants growing happily together.”

He said it takes from five to six months for fish to grow to market-size but the wastewater from the fisheries can also be used for the production of vegetables.

“We have increased the use of the aquaponics system to the CNMI from zero to three or four, and one major project has been set up involving Eric Van Der Maas of the Marianas Business Plaza in Susupe,” Ogo said.

NMC-CREES helped Van Der Maas construct an aquaponic system on the third floor of the building that will produce about 1,200 lettuce heads every four weeks, Ogo added.

Other vegetables and plants that can be grown though aquaponics include parsley, spinach, lettuce, pepper, onion, cucumber, eggplant and basil.

Klaus Bier
During the Rotary Club meeting, NMC-CREES outreach coordinator Klaus Bier made a presentation about the development of hydroponics in the CNMI.

Bier said hydroponics, which is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, needs no soil and avoids soil-borne diseases.

Hydroponics require little labor as there is no weeding necessary, has low water consumption, little electrical power and the nutrient levels are adjusted to the needs of your crops, he added.

For more information about the aquaponics and hydroponics system, go to or call234-5498 Ext. 6840 on Saipan, 532-9513 on Rota and 433-0639 on Tinian.