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Restoring production to ensure a stable income for seaweed farmers

After China, Indonesia is the second biggest seaweed producer in the world, contributing to 38% of the global seaweed market. Seaweed cultivation in Indonesia is largely concerned with the production of carrageenan. Extracted from edible seaweeds, this by-products is used widely in the food and cosmetic industries as a natural gelling agent.

Contrary to the ever-increasing opportunities and demand for seaweed, its production has been declining in Indonesia over the past 10 years. Rapid tourism development, the clearing of seaweed wetland habitats, and concerns of pollution all threaten the national market. Seaweed production needs to be restored to ensure a stable income for seaweed farmers.

Rikolto helps improve the livelihood of seaweed farmers through innovative seaweed agribusiness practices. With a strong focus on product value adding, and increasing harvest quantity and quality, we collaborate with seaweed farmers from two locations within eastern Indonesia: Nusa Penida and Sikka, Flores.

Challenges • Compromised land due to tourism development • Polluted waterways threaten the success of seaweed farming. Indonesia is the second biggest plastic producer in the world. • Lack of consistency regarding seaweed quality • Perceptions of contamination of seaweed in Sikka, Flores • Lack of organisation within farmer cooperatives in Nusa Penida • Herbivory from turtles, dugongs and herbivorous fish

Strategies • Provide better quality seed • Workshops to improve farming techniques • Improve post-harvest and processing • Multi-stakeholder meetings engaging all sectors of the community to promote the consumption and sale of seaweed products • Greater market research to understand potential new derivative products • Development of a seaweed centre • Training farmers to make derivative products • Lobby government to protect seaweed growing sites and promote the industry • Technology that adapts to seaweed farming to minimise predation