Members of SHGs preparing a bamboo raft with seaweeds for deployment in a lagoon. (Special Arrangement)
Members of SHGs preparing a bamboo raft with seaweeds for deployment in a lagoon. (Special Arrangement)

Lakshadweep launches seaweed farming units in nine inhabited islands

The initiative is in line with a study conducted by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute which found immense potential for quality seaweeds in pollution-free lagoons for high-end utilisation like pharmaceuticals, food and nutraceuticals
By HT Correspondent, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON SEP 07, 2021 12:23 AM IST

After fisheries, coconut and tourism, the Lakshadweep administration has prioritized seaweed farming as the next major engine of economic development.

In this effort, large-scale farming of indigeneous seaweeds was launched in nine inhabited islands of Lakshadweep on September 1 under the guidance of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMRI), a premier marine research body, headquartered in Kochi.

“The initiative is in line with a study conducted by the marine research body which found immense potential for quality seaweeds in serene and pollution-free lagoons for high-end utilisation like pharmaceuticals, food and nutraceuticals,” said CMFRI in a statement on Monday, which is planning to produce about 30,000 tonne worth 7.5 million in a year.

The CMFRI said the indigenous red algae, Gracilaria edulis and Acanthophora spicifera are some of the species being planned in nearly 2,500 bamboo rafts benefitting 100 families belonging to 10 women self-help groups.

“Known for its unique tuna fish, beautiful corals, reef fishes and other creatures now the islands are likely to be known as the seaweed farming hub of the country soon”, said Dr K Mohammed Koya, a senior scientist with the CMFRI.

Recent studies by the CMFRI revealed a big growth of indigenous seaweed species in various lagoons of Lakshadweep with nearly 60-fold growth in 45 days for species like Gracilaria edulis.

Following this, the island administration joined hands with the CMFRI for multi-locational trial farming and capacity building of stakeholders. “Experimental farming was conducted in the islands of Kiltan, Chetlah Kadmath, Agatti and Kavaratti during 2020-21 with good results,” said CMFRI.

“Our studies revealed that the island has a potential of producing nearly 30,000 tonnes of dry seaweed per year worth 7.5 million by farming only 1% (200 ha) of its 21,290 ha of lagoon area (inhabited islands only)” said Dr Koya.

To provide a sound scientific basis for a sustainable seaweed farming, the CMFRI and the Lakshadweep Krishi Vigyan Kendra began further studies for assessing the carrying capacity of the lagoons, spatial mapping of suitable farming sites, standardising farming methods for year-round farming in deeper areas and to ensure quality seeding materials, said CMFRI.

Seaweed is consumed in several countries especially in East Asian countries. It is also used in food additives, medicine, fertiliser and cosmetic goods and to combat beach erosion.

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