Symbiotic living

28 Mar 2016 / 10:53 H.

THE Elshaddai Refugee Learning Centre (ERLC) in Klang was founded in 2008. It is a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) registered learning centre. ERLC provides education to over 400 students aged between four and 18 from seven different countries.
Recently, German ambassador to Malaysia Holger Michael visited ERLC. During his visit, he donated some items to the children of the home, including sports equipment. At the event, he was also taken on a short tour of the centre’s aquaponic farm, a project funded by the German Embassy and Taylor’s College.
It was learned that the embassy funded the mini aquaponic project at the ERLC. The undertaking is part of the embassy’s Micro-Project Fund, in which it awards annual mini grants to organisations all over Malaysia for various initiatives, including fostering better education, creating sources of income for women and others.
This year, the embassy offered RM20,000 to ERLC to help it set up six aquaponic systems. An aquaponic system is basically explained as the marriage between aquaculture which is raising fish, and hydroponics – soil-less growing of plants. In ERLC’s case, it had plans to establish six self-sustaining symbiotic environments to produce organic vegetables and harvest fish.
Essentially, an aquaponic system enables waste from the fish to be turned into organic food source for the plants, while the plants in return act as a natural filter for the “pond” in which the fish live in.
Besides generating produce from this venture which will be sold to nearby churches to supplement the school’s operation costs, the project aims to provide the refugee children a first-hand look at the symbiotic relationship between plants and fish.
Generally, the project is one that champions “symbiotic living”. The word symbiosis is said to come from two Greek words, which mean “with” and “living”. Symbiotic living simply emphasises what nature has been doing since the beginning – living together of two dissimilar organisms where different species team up to help each other. Examples include lactobacillus and humans, cells and mitochondria, coral and algae, ants and fungi, bees and orchids, and in this case, plants and fish in the pond.

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