Indonesia has a huge potential in the aquaculture sector. It is the third-largest aquaculture industry worldwide. The total available area spans over 17 million hectares, however, only 1.2 million hectares or 7.23% of the viable area has been utilized. Indonesian fish farmers are skeptical to invest in new technologies and prefer to cultivate fish with the wide-spread, traditional methods, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation from distributors.
We talked to the five team members to learn more about Banoo’s mission. The below answers were given by the founder Fajar Sidik Abdullah Kelana unless stated otherwise.
Can you share more about your venture Banoo?
Our main mission is to help improve the livelihoods of people through a more sustainable and advanced aquaculture system. Farmers using our technology can monitor and control the water quality of their pond as well as increase their yield, supported by a sustainable energy source. Through our mobile app, we are also able to help fish farmers connect and learn how to maximize the potential of agriculture.
Banoo is an integrated technology application combining IoT sensors, a microbubble generator aquaculture aerator, and a solar panel system. Designed for a 100m2 pond – Banoo’s aquaculture system is able to increase levels of dissolved oxygen, enhance fish weight, size and overall viability. The fish farmers can monitor and control pond water quality, view graphic pond condition reports stored on the Banoo mobile phone app as well as automate the microbubble generation based on real-time water quality conditions.
What’s the story behind Banoo?
Banoo started as a research project on microbubble generators during my undergraduate studies in 2016. We initially tried to apply it to water treatment processes and then had the idea to apply it in other sectors. Since my family’s background is in farming, I turned to agriculture/ aquaculture.
We found a fish farming village in Yogyakarta and interviewed them about the challenges they face. Water quality was their main issue, specifically, the amount of dissolved oxygen. We launched a pilot project and found that the microbubble generator was able to enhance and improve the water quality and fish growth. The data showed that the microbubble generator was able to increase the yield by 40% compared to the conventional aerator.
What came after the pilot project?
My research teammates from graduate school left the project and I began to recruit new colleagues. Fortunately, I met Selly, Ari, Hary, and Aliva, they are very passionate people with diverse backgrounds and expertise in Mechanical Engineering, Business Management, Electronics & Instrumentation, and Fishery.
Together we started to develop the idea that our microbubble generator could add more value with an advanced water monitoring system that had the power to control and maintain the quality of the water. Our main target for this research project was to understand the impact Banoo has on the fish in terms of length, weight, and water quality. We conducted research and cultivation processes*, full cultivation and renovation cycles, which can take up to four months. We also joined several community meetings, and events hosted by the villagers. Finally, we spread the fish in the ponds and installed our banoo system. After that, we repeated the cultivation cycles and harvested the fish to compare samples.
*Results: dissolved O2 +130%; fish weight +42%; fish survival rate +200%; total profit +124%; harvesting time -25%; fish feed conversion +29%
You are democratising technology for farmers. Why is that important in Indonesia?
Limited access to education is the single biggest problem in Indonesia. The average farmer is 40-50 years old, maybe even 60. Similarly, Indonesia has been experiencing rural to urban migration for some years now. There are no young farmers in Indonesia anymore, and sadly it’s happened all over the whole world. It’s a massive problem for us because we have huge potential.
Transferring technology and knowledge from the universities, academic and research institutions to the farmers is very hard. I would say it’s the biggest challenge that we face in Indonesia. Therefore, one of the best solutions is to make education available and invite and introduce these farmers to advanced technologies that they can apply to agriculture.
How do you make sure that farmers understand Banoo’s value?
Fish farmers are willing to make the investment, but they have to know what to do with this product first. Farmers are still hesitant to implement the Banoo system because they don’t understand the science or the technology behind it and are uncertain what to do if something goes wrong.
It is our mission to spread awareness and share knowledge so we can help them increase their yield, productivity, and sustainability. Our plan is to offer workshops not only to introduce our products but also to educate farmers on increasing yield, applying technology, and to show that fish farming is really cool.
We’re planning to collaborate with the government and/or NGOs and institutions that can help us reach the community and fish farmers especially outside of Yogyakarta, which is difficult to reach due to infrastructure and transportation. Beyond the fish farms and rural areas we also want to share our knowledge and understanding with university students, maybe even school children, and showcase that an investment in aquaculture is highly valuable.
What goals are you working towards?
We want to create a social enterprise or social business model first. It’s fairly difficult to disrupt the market, especially in Indonesia. People who are involved in agriculture and aquaculture span all generations. We want to draw the attention of the youngest generation by offering training and workshops. We have actually been contacted by several foundations that want to collaborate with us.
Over the next five years, we want to develop social programs that collaborate with CSR programs from corporations throughout Indonesia. In 2021, we want to incorporate our social enterprise and then move forward to apply our technology on fish farms. After that, we will continue to build specific technology for agriculture and possibly devise a business model that can extend microfinance loans to middle-income farmers and offer our technology to them for a reduced price.
How have you benefited from the TFF Challenge?
Thanks to TFF we were able to meet many people who have the same mission to help improve the food system. We worked with team SyntheSea in the peer to peer block because we are dealing with the same issues in aquaculture and we have communicated several times. It was great as well because we can share and exchange knowledge, experiences, and troubles that relate to each other. We would not get that anywhere else.
We will continue sharing about Banoo’s journey—make sure to follow Banoo’s journey here.
Banoo and the other Finalist and Boost Teams are currently taking part in the virtual TFF Academy 2020, which is an open-sourced acceleration program anyone can join. Just sign up to the Digital Labs and make sure to request to join the TFF Community Facebook group here where we will keep an active feed for peer-to-peer discussions and relevant conversations!