Date of Graduation

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Eric J. Wailes

Committee Member

Jennie S. Popp

Second Committee Member

Jeroen Buysse

Keywords

Social sciences; Biological sciences; Aquaculture; Aquaponics; Arkansas agriculture; Economic feasability; Hydroponics; Sustainable agriculture

Abstract

Concerns regarding population growth and resource scarcity have led to a recent renaissance of food production research. Over the past few decades, scientists have discovered new and innovative methods for growing food that, cumulatively, may hold the key to efficiently and sustainably feeding an ever-increasing world population. One method, known as aquaponics, has shown promise as being a sustainable solution for producing food locally in all parts of the world. Although many studies have shown aquaponic food production to be technically feasible, there are relatively few studies concerning the economic feasibility of aquaponics in various regions. To determine whether aquaponics could be economically feasible under greenhouse conditions in temperate climates, cost and revenue data for constructing and operating the University of the Virgin Islands’ Commercial Aquaponics 2 system were collected from various sources. These data were then used to develop enterprise budgets for the aquaponic production of tilapia, lettuce and basil. Additional financial analyses included the calculation of break-even prices for each crop, a cash-flow analysis of three farm scenarios and the determination of investment payback period. Overall, it appears that aquaponic food production using the UVI CA2 system could be economically feasible in temperate climates, assuming a proper selection of crops, in conjunction with the existence of viable markets. The results also show, however, that greater focus on hydroponic production may potentially yield higher profits than those attainable through a fully integrated aquaponic production system.

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