The nation hopes to feed its growing population and diversify its oil-based economy by tapping the huge aquifers beneath the Sahara to develop fish farms. Its goal: double annual fish production by 2022.
In a corner of his sprawling farm, Milouda Mohammed proudly unveiled his latest venture – a pond full of catfish that could herald a new future for farmers like him in the Sahara desert.
He is hoping to earn extra income from selling fresh, farmed fish from the world's largest and hottest desert and use the water to irrigate his olive and date trees and vegetables.
"Five years from now, I'm expecting different kinds of products from this land," said Mr. Mohammed, clad in thick, long-sleeved overalls, oblivious to the searing afternoon sun.
The 15-hectare farm, some 370 miles by car from the capital Algiers, bustled with chickens, quails, ducks, camels, goats, and sheep – a hive of activity in this stark landscape where, for miles, there is little else besides sand.
"I'm excited about this. Inshallah, it works," he added, using the Arabic phrase for "God willing" as he threw some home-made feed of leftover chicken and vegetables into the pond.
Farming fish in the desert might sound counterintuitive but Algeria hopes to tap the huge aquifers beneath the Sahara – that covers about 80 percent of the country – as it seeks new ways to feed its growing population and diversify its oil based economy.
[Photo by albatros11 (Samir Bzk) | Flickr]