Al-Raid Aquaponic Farm / Muscat Horizons

Summary: In the dry, soil-constrained cities of Oman, this aquaponic greenhouse started commercially producing vegetables and fish in 2014, following a 2 year trial period.

Technical details:

  • Size: 8,000 sq ft greenhouse
  • Production system: Breathable greenhouse, fibreglass raceways and tanks, FloMedia beds and deep water culture troughs.
  • Species: tilapia, tomato, peppers, gourds, beans, lettuce, basil, etc
  • Date Operational: October 2012. Commercial phase began in 2014. Expansion phase II began 2016

Partners and People:

  • Al-Raid Group, a diverse locally-owned company including commercial landscaping
  • Bala and Guru, dedicated local farmers trained by WaterFarmers.
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Additional Information:

The Al-Raid Aquaponic Project is first ever commercial aquaponic venture in the Sultanate of Oman. WaterFarmers™ partnered with the Al-Raid Group, a locally-owned company with a diverse business portfolio, including a significant presence in the commercial landscaping business. With visionary Executives committed to promoting food sovereignty and food purity in the region, aquaponics was initiated at a semi-commercial pilot phase.  The project aims to be a part of a larger initiative to set up the first ever organic, pasture-fed, free-range farm in the country offering produce, milk, and eggs. The aquaponic pilot initiative was set up in October 2012 to study the feasibility of commercial Aquaponics in the Barka Region of the Muscat Governorate.

Phase 1 Pilot system

A full fledged FloMedia or Hybrid system housed in a breathable style greenhouse was setup to be populated by Media Beds and Deep Water Culture troughs. With the primary material of choice being Fiberglass, system construction and fabrication was completed at a mind blowing speed of 14 days by a very skilled group of trades-persons. The media used in this particular system were Clay Balls, due to the unavailability of limestone free gravel in a region known for its rich marble grade Calcium deposits. Following the standard design dimensions of the WaterFarmers’ pilot commercial system, the system was expected to trial the growth of crops that best suit the region’s markets and public preferences.

The system has since been a compelling success in the region proving yet again the penetrative capacity of aquaponics to regions that have no water or soil suitable for conventional agriculture. Furthermore, the quality of the produce surpasses everything currently available in the market, in both taste and freshness.  The nutrient bank of the system was driven by an aquaculture stock of Tilapia sourced from a hormone-free – local aquaculture hatchery located in Manah and Sohar.

 

Phase 2 Commercial system

The new year of 2014 saw a wrap up of the Research and Development phase of the Pilot project and initiated the transition into the commercial mode. An expansion was planned and executed to complement the pilot project and will jointly form the Al Raid Commercial Aquaponic Farm. The system will aim to diversify and increase yield to meet the demands of the local market.

Production

The low stress, optimal feed, highly filtered environment used to raise the tilapia produced the first ever high quality crop in May 2013, and has been producing ever since. A highly specific crop planning schedule has permeated year round production since the inception of the project, showcasing a wide variety of crops and greens from tomato and peppers to gourds and beans, and lettuce to basil and everything in between.

The Crew

At WaterFarmers we pride ourselves in our high efficiency knowledge transfer programs designed to equip our aquaponic farmers with the highest level of skills and know-how to run successful aquaponic farms. The Al-Raid farm finds two of the best farmers by global aquaponic standards, in Bala and Guru. Their commitment and dedication to plant health, structured problem solving methodologies, and planning of seeding and harvest schedules gratifies our goal and vision of designing and commissioning systems around the world. We take this moment to appreciate their immense contribution to the success of the project. This further emphasizes the significance of running precise and efficient maintenance programs in the actual success of an aquaponic farm.