Seaweed farming in Fiji. (Photo Credit: The World's Best Ever CC BY-SA 3.0 US)
Seaweed industry gets a boost
Monday, September 02, 2013, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
With the financial help of the Integrated Human Resource Development (IHRDP), seaweed farmers from 11 villages in the Lomaiviti province have been able to engage in commercial seaweed farming.
The aid came in the form of FJD 258,000 (USD 135,078), out of which FJD 30,000 (USD 15,706) was destined to building a fully furnished women’s resource centre.
The government of Fiji is also working closely with the Indonesian government in a co-operative approach that would see local women and youths trained in making local seaweed byproducts ranging from edibles to toiletries.
The Prime Minister of Fiji said the training would empower women who are the backbone of the local community.
“IHRDP assisted these seaweed farmers with 7 fibreglass boats and engines, which have really boosted their seaweed production and sales,” IHRDP Manager in the Eastern Division, Katalaini Waibuta said.
The initiative will also provide massive investment opportunities, thus strengthening the local economy.
Seaweed production means farmers can rely on an alternative short term product rather than farming only yaqona, which is a long term crop.
Waibuta said the first harvest yielded 8 tonnes of seaweed in 2012, which were altogether sold to a Chinese firm from Suva.
The government’s initiative has changed the lives of over 300 locals, creating job opportunities as well as training them to earn a living, paving the way for a self-sustainable economy.
Abdurrahman Fachir, Director General for Information and Public Diplomacy at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "The seaweed industries this year in Indonesia has attracted IDR 165 billion (USD 15 million) from a number of companies as well as managed to create jobs for over 600 people."
"The Indonesian government is happy to share the knowledge on expanding the seaweed industry as it would broaden opportunities for the people of Fiji particularly the women to develop their knowledge on using the abundant natural resources like seaweed to strengthen the foundation for self-sustainable economy," the Indonesian official added.
The island of Fiji can produce 300 tonnes of dry seaweed each month, which is a small volume compared to the one in the Chinese market demands, which is 5,000 tonnes every month.
By Gabriela Raffaele