Maria Nakafeero

GRÓ-FTP Fellow

Research Project (2021/2022) with Hólar University and Ísponica

“My name is Maria Caroline Nakafeero, and I am from Uganda. I am a researcher in the Department of Zoology, Entomology, and Fisheries Sciences at the College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University. In my role, I provide knowledge to fish farmers and train students in fisheries and aquatic sciences. Additionally, I work as a part-time research associate with JF Green Consult, where I provide guidance on environmental management and fish studies.

My interest in aquaponics and fish farming stems from a deep passion for sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. Growing up in Uganda, I witnessed the challenges faced by local farmers, including limited resources and the impact of climate change. This inspired me to explore innovative solutions to enhance food security and promote eco-friendly practices.
Aquaponics, a system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics, offers a sustainable way to produce food by creating a symbiotic environment for fish and plants. My research focuses on optimizing nitrification processes to improve system productivity and maintain water quality. By implementing biofilters to manage nitrate levels, I aim to enhance plant growth and overall efficiency.

Through my work at Makerere University and JF Green Consult, I strive to share this knowledge with students and fish farmers, empowering them to adopt sustainable practices. My goal is to contribute to a healthier, more sustainable future for communities in Uganda and beyond.
In 2021/2022, I worked on a project in Iceland which focused on aquaponics, a sustainable method of food production that combines aquaculture and hydroponics to create a symbiotic environment for fish and plants. The core of my research investigated the nitrification process, where ammonia from fish waste is converted into nitrites and then nitrates by beneficial bacteria. This conversion is crucial for maintaining water quality and providing essential nutrients for plant growth.

Through my research, I discovered that higher production rates in aquaponics systems require the implementation of biofilters to effectively manage nitrification. These biofilters, which house nitrifying bacteria, play a vital role in converting ammonia into nitrates efficiently. By optimizing biofiltration, nitrate levels can be controlled and utilized effectively for plant growth, leading to higher overall productivity in the aquaponics system.

My findings underscored the importance of biofilters in maintaining a healthy balance in aquaponics, ensuring sustainable and efficient food production. This research not only contributes to the field of aquaponics but also provides valuable insights for improving practices in fish farming and environmental management.

At Makerere University, I am committed to advancing the knowledge and skills of students and fish farmers in Uganda and beyond. By sharing my expertise and research findings, I aim to promote sustainable aquaculture practices that benefit both the environment and the community. My collaboration with JF Green Consult further enhances my ability to provide comprehensive guidance on environmental management and fish studies, ensuring that my work has a positive and lasting impact.”