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Promote the algae sector on Nature Island

Promote the algae sector on Nature Island

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Importing different types of seaweed increases income for Dominica’s fish farmers

Agracellaria seaweed is traditionally grown in Dominica to make drinks, jellies and other products. However, as they are slow-growing species, they pose production problems for their producers. Therefore, FAO presented Eucheuma cottonii to farmers as an alternative solution rather than relying on imports to meet domestic demand. FAO/Chris Davis©


In a small island nation on the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea, grows a type of wild seaweed, or red algae, called Gracilaria, which the Dominicans continue to cultivate as part of their tradition and which is used to make drinks, jellies and other products. like textile dyes.

Agracilaria algae, like other types of algae, has many nutritional and cosmetic benefits. However, this slow-growing species poses challenges to its producers in terms of production and supply, forcing them to import other species from neighboring islands to meet local demand.

Seaweed cultivation is a complex process that involves harvesting the seaweed, cleaning it of weeds and other debris, bleaching it and drying it in the sun, then packaging the dried raw materials before selling it.

Unfortunately, Agracilaria species readily attract other grasses, such as epiphytes. While other types of algae are capable of cleaning themselves, cleaning Agracilaria algae is a tedious and labor-intensive process. Additionally, Agracilaria yields are relatively low, with an average extraction rate of only 1 kg of dry product per 18 kg of wet raw material, meaning low profits.

“Many farmers grew seaweed themselves,” says Dorian Sanford, a government official responsible for aquaculture, fisheries and mariculture. “They faced many difficulties in growing Agracilaria, and the results were not always good, and they were frustrated. some even go as far as “Stop growing algae.”

Despite these difficulties, many farmers have refused to abandon seaweed cultivation.

The solution to this problem appeared thanks to agriculture Eucheuma cottonii, a type of commercial seaweed that was first introduced to this region several decades ago. This species was introduced as part of a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project focused on improving livelihoods, supporting the development of agricultural value chains and sustainable food and strengthening their resilience.

The organization’s project provided theoretical and field training on production Eucheuma cottonnii and good aquaculture practices. Technicians, extension agents and growers from three seaweed cooperatives benefited from the training led by Thomas Nelson, a seaweed expert from Saint Lucia.

Promote the algae sector on Nature Island
Promote the algae sector on Nature Island

The fast-growing, self-cleaning species of Eucheuma cottonii produces algae in the quantities and qualities necessary for profitable commercial production. FAO/Chris Davis©

Algae Eucheuma cottonii It is a fast-growing, self-cleaning species that produces algae in the quantities and qualities necessary for profitable production. It has seen great success in Saint Lucia and other neighboring islands that grow seaweed commercially.

There have been significant improvements in seaweed production and yields since three large community farming groups, Woodford Hill, Calibishie and Grand Bay, began growing seaweed. Eucheuma cottonii.

“Since FAO joined us, we have involved groups of farmers in piloting this type of algae,” explains Mr. Sanford, who himself received training from FAO and now mentors farmers. of the island in the production of seaweed for commercial purposes. but after a few months the groups showed enthusiasm for the new yields and for growing and harvesting the seaweed and we now have groups harvesting between 180 and 325 kilograms of seaweed.

Optimism about seaweed cultivation has increased since the species was introduced Eucheuma cottonii.

Two agricultural processing companies now purchase raw products from local farmers. A group of farmers from Grand Baie exports small quantities of seaweed to the United States and the Woodford Hill group is studying the possibility of processing this seaweed into cosmetic products.

Promote the algae sector on Nature Island

FAO seeks to help Dominica further develop this value chain by connecting farmers and agricultural processors to encourage investment in this promising sector. FAO/Chris Davis©

In order to further guide farmers and develop the sector, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Blue and Green Economies is supporting farmers in the construction of new drying sheds, and has also developed a species nursery . Eucheuma cottonii To help new and existing seaweed producers. The nursery allows growers to quickly recover from damage and loss of algae caused by storms, such as Tropical Storm Brett in June 2023. Through the nursery, growers received 18 kilograms of algae to retool their cultivation facilities.

Despite occasional challenges caused by extreme weather conditions, seaweed remains at the top of the country’s aquaculture priorities, due to its high revenue potential. It creates jobs and improves the quality of life for farmers and local communities in Dominica.

“Dominica will soon be on the seaweed farming map,” says Mr Sanford.

Boosting production is only the first step in building the value chain. In the long term, the project aims to strengthen links between the private and public sectors. Long-term partnerships like this will help increase investment in the seaweed sector, build the resilience of seaweed production in Dominica and improve its sustainability.

Links related to the topic

for more information

Website: FAO Country Profiles: Dominic

video tape: Seaweed Farmers – Pioneers in transforming Dominica’s seaweed sector

Podcast: A journey to transform Dominica’s seaweed sector

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