The Yachana Foundation is constantly trying to have its agricultural program be as self-sustaining as possible. As part of this goal, we have just finished building 3 new fish ponds. They are from 10 x 14 meters (30 x 43 feet) to 10 x 22 meters (30 x 67 feet) and are 1½ meters deep (4½ feet).
The municipal government has a program that we took advantage of to help farmers develop productive projects so they covered most of the cost of the three days for the track-hoe to excavate the ponds. We will leave the ponds empty for six weeks to dry and clay solidify. We will use the ponds to raise Cachama fish that is delicious and is native to the region.
We wanted something native because the drains from the ponds go into a small stream that flows directly into the big Napo River and we don’t want to have an introduced species getting into the wild. We will have fish in the two biggest ponds and in the smallest, we will raise duckweed.
Duckweed is the world’s smallest flowering plant and reproduces vegetatively. In our tropical environment, once the entire pond is covered with the little plant which will take about a month, it grows so fast that we can harvest around one half of what is floating on the surface every couple of days. This will provide all of the feed for the fish so we won’t be spending money for fish food.
With commercial food, they would grow a little faster, but to be more sustainable we will rely on the duckweed. In around 8 months, the fish will grow to 1.5 pounds and will be ready to harvest. A big advantage of using our own fish food without any external cost is that we can let some of the fish grow much larger so we can fillet them. This is a wonderful project for our students to be involved in and for our visitors to the Yachana Lodge to see.