Rikolto - VECO/VredesEilanden

07/23/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/23/2019 11:40

Seaweed in Sikka: Progress and challenges ahead

To address the aforementioned problems, we have been working with the local government to help farmers obtain quality seeds, cultivate and harvest seaweed and link farmers to market. Up to now, we have been engaging farmers to cultivate seaweed. In Magepanda Village of Sikka District, one of our project sites, we carried out a Good Agricultural Practices training from, 19th to 21st June, 2019, involving 17 people consisting of young people, farmers and university students.

In Magepanda, rural communities mostly depend on agriculture (rice, cocoa, corn) to sustain their livelihoods. During a dry season, farmers rely on stored rice, saved from a previous harvest, which most times are insufficient to feed the whole families. This forces farmers to borrow money from loan sharks (informal moneylenders asking for high interest) to meet their daily needs. A small number of farmers also turns to subsistence fishing during a lean season. We see an enormous potential for seaweed farming to improve farmers' livelihood in this village. In Magepanda, we introduce three new technologies to farmers:

  • We teach farmers to use a floating cage to protect new seeds when being transported from one place to another

  • To stimulate the growth of newly-planted seeds, we teach farmers to tie seaweed seeds to a long rope (longline method). With this method, farmers can move longline to another area, seeds receive sufficient sunlight and grow faster

  • We introduce the use of algae veg sheet to make the cultivation process more efficient. The technology allows farmers to grow more seeds with less space

As a result of the training in Magepanda, participants have received new skills in seaweed farming. They learnt how to harvest, cut, tie and replant seaweed of the new cuttings. The newly-cut seaweeds then were tied to 6 long lines, with each line of 25m in length, and replanted to a 50 meter square sea area.

Despite some progress, we also note some challenges in the field. The main challenge is low participation of farmers. We already have contact farmers willing to cultivate seaweed and pass on their knowledge to other farmers. Yet, the number of farmers attending training fluctuated, because farmers have not seen the benefit of seaweed cultivation.

The peak harvest will occur in December 2019 and we encourage farmers to keep taking care of their seaweed. We have also brought potential buyers committed to buying seaweed from farmers and linked farmers to Village-Owned Enterprises. With this enabling environment, we hope to see more farmers in seaweed farming.