Chevening climate hero: Laura Bafaletse in an aquaponics adventure

Laura is a Chevening Alumna from Botswana, who believes that a new approach to farming could revolutionise food sustainability. She's our next Chevening Climate Hero!

In the run-up to the COP26 conference, we will be selecting some of the pledges that we receive and turning the pledgee into a ‘Chevening Climate Hero’. If you’d like the chance to be selected as one of our heroes then make a pledge!

Laura’s story: ‘Hi, my name is Laura, I’m from Botswana, and I studied Environmental and Business Management.

My pledge was to start up an Aquaponics project.

Aquaponics in a nutshell could be referred to as a “soilless recirculating growing system“. It is a sustainable agricultural practice that utilises aquaculture (the farming of aquatic organisms – fish in this instance) and hydroponics (the growing of crops in water instead of soil).

In an aquaponics system, fish and crops co-exist in a delicate, symbiotic cycle.

Water from fish tanks contains fish waste, which is rich in naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. The bacteria breaks down ammonia into nitrites, then nitrates, before being absorbed by plants along with other nutrients to help them grow.

The water is in turn filtered and cleaned by the plants in the system, then recirculated back into the fish tank, and the cycle begins again.

My company, LauraB Organics will produce fish, fruits and vegetables organically through aquaponics. This will play a pivotal role in meeting the increasing food demand in a growing urban population such as Gaborone, Botswana.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of food security, particularly as a landlocked country which is highly dependent on imports for food supply.

Aquaponics is a great alternative to traditional agriculture, as it can mitigate destructive elements of the farming process, such as clearing land for crops, and the use of artificial fertilisers and insecticides.

I have acquired land rights to set-up a large scale aquaponics system, and will soon be drilling a borehole as a source of water. Next will be the construction of a permanent warehouse structure with skylight roofing as a greenhouse. I am confident my efforts will pay off!’