How do you rate this example?
- What’s the solution?
- What makes it smart?
- How is the solution implemented?
- In what local context has it been applied?
- Who was behind the implementation?
- What was the local journey?
- What have been the main outputs & results?
- What does it bring the village/community?
- What’s needed
- What to do…
- and not to do.
Where to find out more?
Region or village : Törökkoppány, Hungary
Country : Hungary
Population : 440
Contact person :
Last updated : 19/08/20
What’s the solution?
This solution is an extension of aquaponics to include insect breeding and renewable energy. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. In this ‘AquaGeoComponics’ solution, catfish, vegetables and compost are produced in a pilot 150m2, two-storey building (like a greenhouse). Insects are bred on food waste and used for feeding the fish. Fish and insect breeding needs heating in winter, which is provided by renewable energy (solar panels supplying heat pumps).
The project will be operated as a community enterprise by a public benefit association, using the profit for local development. It will employ one local person.
Based on latest market trends, the price of the insect products is intensively growing, and therefore, the horticultural element might be excluded. This would result in a simpler system, which, besides producing feed for the fish, produces insect products for sale, instead of vegetables.
What makes it smart?
It is primarily technological innovation, put into a rural context. As such, it can also be regarded as a social innovation, since it can be operated as a community enterprise or for household income generation, which helps maintaining rural population.
Insect breeding is a very promising innovation to substitute imported, environmentally disastrous, therefore limited protein resources (GMO soybean, fishmeal), and, in addition, it can be produced from waste, as well as being easy to operate and ideal for creating a network of smaller, local breeding units.
How is the solution implemented?
- Project generation needed about four years.
- Promoters were looking for income generation methods which can operate on an average village real estate (cheap small houses with a garden of 500 – 1500 m2).
- First looked into aquaponics, which seemed promising but turned out not to provide sufficient income and was estimated to be a very slow and difficult process (due to PH problems, cold winters, hot summers, etc.).
- After several consultations and field visits to research insitutes, it was concluded, that fish is quite easy to produce and sells well, but it needs enormous energy and feed input, which makes its profitability risky.
- Based on consultations with renewable energy experts, it was concluded, that the heating can be solved by integrating photovoltaic and geothermal technologies.
- Promoters also consulted professional horticulturalists, and hydroponics (esp. tomato production) solutions, that could be tailored to local needs, were identified.
- Identified a young start-up promoter in an agricultural fair, who was trying to sell insect breeding technology: started to cooperate and elaborated an adequate technology for the fish unit to produce larvae from local food waste. These larvae can be eaten alive by fish, and it is expected that 40-50% of the fish-feed can be substituted with them. A simple biorefinery later can produce low-fat insect flour which can be used in higher proportions in fish feeding and the surplus can be sold easily.
- It is a small pilot unit, which is already under construction and its scientific follow-up and promotion as an innovation will be ensured by the EIP Operational Group formed around the idea.
In what local context has it been applied?
The project area is a typical Hungarian (at least 30% of the country is similar) lagging-behind rural reality: depopulated, tiny villages, poverty, lack of services, lack of employment, local people has practically no economic relation to the surrounding land (it is dominated by large scale intensive crop production with outside owners), but, on the other hand it could offer ideal living space with cheap real estates, beautiful and healthy environment. As there is no access to land, it is not possible to attract young people, because there is no income sources. We were looking for possibilities of local (household) income generation without land and without special knowledge, which are using the latest technologies, fulfil the requirements of sustainability and circular economy, as well as provide an acceptable annual income.
Who was behind the implementation?
Promoter is a local civil organisation (Vox Vallis Development Association), established in 2004 to enhance sustainable economic, social and environmental systems to rehabilitate the area. Members, especially activists are mostly ‘newcomers’, who were not accepted easily by locals at the beginning. To generate these types of projects you need: a little team possessing knowledge (project management, rural and agricultural development, finance, bioeconomy, renewable energy, etc.), several years of animation (incl. motivation tours); several years of collecting ideas and knowledge; local trust and reputation (the organisation worked as a LEADER+ LAG, which helped to gain that).
What was the local journey?
The most challenging aspect is financing the construction: LEADER is not providing advance payment and access to credit is almost impossible for a non-profit association. We have overcome that by offering deposits for the crediting bank (our CEO is a farmer and he offered land deposit). In addition, it has come out that the credit is not allowing to pay advance, in spite of the fact that the aquaculture tech companies will not start manufacturing without advance payment, therefore we had to put in our own money as well to make the whole thing running.
What have been the main outputs & results?
- Greenhouse-like pilot unit (150m2, two-story building);
- Catfish (16-17 t/ year);
- Vegetable and compost.
What does it bring the village/community?
- New jobs: An estimated minimum income of € 20,000;
- Environmental sustainability: elimination of food waste.
Physical infrastructure: building, pumps, filters, solar panels, fish pools and other equipment.
Expert fees: on fish breeding, insect breeding, renewable energy technology and an architect.
Main types of cost:
Initial/set-up costs: € 142.000
Ongoing/recurring annual costs: € 12.000 – 15.000
|LEADER||142,000 €||150m2, two-storey building, 6 pcs 100m deep borehole sondas, heat pump and exchanger, 5 kw solar panels, 2m diameter plastic fish pools (6), microbiological filter unit, mechanical filter, pump, equipment for insect breeding.|
|EIP Operational Group||110,000 €||Expert fees for two years: fish breeding, insect breeding, renewable energy technology, architect|
1 person employed
Building site for 150 m2
What to do…
- Get the best experts;
- Consult the relevant authorities in advance.
and not to do
- Do not expect too much from the aquaponics component only.