Eric Maundu wants to put fish farming in every kitchen, or more specifically, he has created a smart aquaponics system that can be flat packed and set up as easily as IKEA furniture. He’s also scaled up the aquarium in hopes of reaching urbanites in areas with no local agriculture. On an industrial West Oakland lot, he turned a shipping container into a massive fish tank as part of a large-scale aquaponics setup he hopes can be easily deployed to food deserts.
The tech behind this food-chain self-reliance is aquaponics: a closed-loop system where fish waste from farmed fish provides nutrients for plants grown hydroponically (“without soil”), which in turn purify the water. It uses no pesticides and 10% of the water of conventional plants.
Trained in industrial electronics and computer science, Kenyan-born Maundu has spent the past decade making his systems smarter (i.e. computer-controlled and monitored). “The combination of growing up in deserts and an engineering background puts me in a unique position to address basic human needs using modern technologies”.
Using his custom-made board combining Linux and an Arduino-style chip with more than 10 shields, he relies on sensors to monitor all aspects of an aquaponics garden (pH, water levels, humidity, light, etc). He also uses CNC milling equipment to cut materials to a high level of detail to create aquaponics kits that can be easily assembled at home.
When Maundu found rescue chickens on the street, but couldn’t care for them on a daily basis, he began tinkering to make his coops smarter. He implanted CNC-cut feeders and automated doors so his chicks could free range. It’s all tech he believes could be scaled for an industry looking to provide more free-range options.