You will be surprised that there are many people just like you – taking up aquaponics as a hobby initially and thinking of aquaponics for profit eventually.
This makes great sense as it is such a profitable venture!
The start-up and maintenance cost is low, space requirement is small, manual labour to run the aquaponics farm is minimal and productivity is higher than traditional organic farm. Not only can you provide you family with tasty, healthy and safe fish and vegetables, you can sell the excess crops at a good margin as fresh organic products are in great demand these days.
Here are some tips to get you started with aquaponics for profit:
Find out about the local market
Do a research on the types of herbs or vegetables that are in demand in your local market. Preferably, you would also want those that face less competition and can fetch a good price. It could be a good idea to grow off-season crops.
However, do not forget that you would likely have to incur greater costs in terms of heating and insulation. So do bear them in mind when making your selections.
Similarly, when choosing which aquaponics fish to rear, you will need to consider what are the types of fish in demand in the local market are and whether it suits your local climate. In addition, you may also consider growing fish, such as goldfish, that can be sold as pets.
Determine who is your customer
You can either sell your produce directly to the customers or to your local grocer, fish monger or local pet store. The former might be more of hassle but will likely see a bigger margin.
For the latter, you will have to sell them at a lower price than what you can possibly sell to a consumer directly. However, it could be a more convenient approach as you can sell in bulk to them on a regular basis.
TIP: Do you have a viable and robust marketing plan? Who are your customers and what are your message to them? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?
Start small and scale up when you are ready
No matter how thorough your market research is, you will only get to know about how things really are and the profit margin when you start running the commercial aquaponics farm.
Hence it would be good if you can start small, but design the system with the flexibility to scale it up when you are ready. It is always easier to manage, run, trouble-shoot and fix things when things go wrong with a smaller system compared to a huge aquaponics farm. This is especially so when you are still relatively new to aquaponics.
TIP: Do you have enough capital? Most business start-ups fail because of cashflow problems. To begin with, be conservative of productivity and earnings estimates.
However, all business do carry some risk. Before turning aquaponics into a commercial venture, it is important to spend some time and effort to think through some critical questions, perform thorough research and develop a viable aquaponics business plan.
Preparing a business plan may be tedious and time-consuming. However, such a process of translating a business idea into a plan helps to reduce mistakes and ensure a higher rate of success as it allows you to identify underlying assumptions, better evaluate and analyze the idea and act upon it. A business plan is also needed for you to secure financing.
Steps to develop a viable aquaponics business plan:
- Translate your idea into long term and short term goals. Long term goals are set over few business cycle while short term goals paves the path towards achieving the long term goals.
- Form a basic plan of actions needed to achieve the goals. You will need to perform a thorough research on the market, competition and the technology. Your plan should also cover aspects on operations, management and personnel.
- Analyze, evaluate the plan of actions and identify alternatives. Evaluate alternatives using the same set of criteria developed from the goals and identify the best course of actions for the particular circumstances. Criteria can be financial, production, general environmental (sociocultural, economic, government and technology, and international issues) and industrial (competitive forces affecting market performance) factors.
- Proposal for financing. Your financial plan should include: Sources of financing, Capital equipment list, Breakeven analysis, Pro forma balance sheet, Pro forma income statement, Pro forma cash flow, Equity and Debt capitalization
BIG TIP: Before you start your commercial aquaponics venture, always check your state regulations regarding the permits and license to grow and sell crops and/or fish, as well as any restrictions on the types of aquatic species to rear (especially on non-native species.
For example, Florida requires both businesses and private individuals to obtain relevant permits when producing and selling food from aquaponics. Fish and edible plants are also regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with the latest food safety rules being administered through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Hopefully you have found the tips in aquaponics for profit to be useful in giving you a head start on commercial aquaponics system. However, this is still not enough to get your commercial aquaponics farm up and running.
Find out more…
I highly recommend you to check out Aquaponics 4 You by John Fay, who is an aquaponics guru and certified organic farmer. He spends most of his time on his organic farm but he has now turned his passion into an educational and instructional course to help beginners set up their own aquaponics farm.