Monday, June 11, 2012

St. Albert's College in a New Era of International Collaboration

St. Albert’s College, Ernakulam has been selected by the University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA for an International Internship Programme on “Empowerment through Aquaponics”. This programme is organized in conjunction with Mahattil International LLC, Educators and Consultants, USA with the technical expertise of Sweet Water Foundation, Milwaukee, USA. As part of the internship, Maj H. Fischer, Director of International Studies, University of Wisconsin, accompanied by Chaya Nayak and Jason Axt, representatives of Sweet Water Foundation and Shajan M. John, representing Mahattil International LLC, along with 8 students have arrived in St.Albert’s College. The college has offered its facilities at the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and the Botany Department to set up demonstration units in Aquaponics during the month of June, 2012. An “Aquaponics Club” with students and faculty representations from the Department of Aquaculture and Botany has been formed to facilitate interaction and assistance to the internship team. The internship activity in St.Albert’s is coordinated by Dr.Ajith Thomas John, Associate Professor of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. On June 5th the World Environment Day, a one day Workshop on “Wisconsin-Kerala Aquaponics Connection” was organized by the Aquaponics Club in conjunction with the Encon Club to popularize this clean and green concept.
The Internship Team along with the Rev. Dr. Clement Valluvassery(Manager), Prof. Harry Cleetus(Principal), Prof. Robert Stanley (former Principal), Dr. L. Jose (Head, Dept. of Botany), Dr. Benno Pereira (Head, Dept. of Aquaculture) and Dr. Ajith Thomas John(Coordinator)
Aquaponics (pronounced : ‘ækwə’ poniks) is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In the aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients by the action of the nitrogen cycle, after which the cleansed water is recirculated back to the animals.
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Aquaponic systems can run with near zero environmental impact. They can be used to produce high-quality hormone-free fish and organic vegetables, all without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The system is water-wise in that it uses 90% less water than conventional vegetable gardens and 97% less water than standard aquaculture methods. The concept is highly versatile and adaptable that the system can be built to any scale and fitted to any space, varying in size from small indoor or outdoor units to large commercial units.
The members of the Aquaponics Club who are also members of the ENCON club are actively associating with the international team. The students members have been divided into two groups the “Enterprise Group” and the “Design Group”. Daily discussions are held and review meetings are held to assess the progress of the assigned work to each group.

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