Agri Business

Seaweed farming, new driver of economic growth for Lakshadweep Islands

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on September 06, 2021

View of seaweed farm at Kavaratti

Members of women SHGs at Chetlath island deploying the rafts

Large scale farming of indigenous seaweeds launched under the guidance of CMFRI

After fisheries, coconut and tourism, the Lakshadweep administration has prioritised seaweed farming as the next major development driver of the islands.

A massive demonstration farming of seaweed was launched in nine inhabited islands of Lakshadweep with the technical support of the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). The large-scale initiative is in line with a CMFRI study that revealed immense potential for production of quality seaweeds in serene and pollution free lagoons of Lakshadweep for high-end utilisation in pharmaceuticals, food and nutraceuticals.

The indigenous red algae, Gracilaria edulis and Acanthophora spicifera are the species being farmed in nearly 2,500 bamboo rafts benefiting 100 families belonging to 10 women self-help groups in different islands. “Known for its unique tuna fisheries and myriads of beautiful corals, reef fishes, now the marine sphere of the islands are more likely to be known as the seaweed farming hub of India soon”, said K Mohammed Koya, Scientist at CMFRI.

CMFRI study

Recent studies by the CMFRI revealed that the species Gracilaria edulis have nearly 60-fold growth in 45 days. Following the early success story, the Lakshadweep Administration joined hands with CMFRI for multi-locational trial farming and capacity building of stakeholders. Thus, experimental-scale trial farming was conducted in the islands of Kiltan, Chetlah Kadmath, Agatti and Kavaratti during 2020-21 with promising results.

“The studies revealed that the island territory has a potential of producing nearly 30,000 tonnes of dry seaweed per year worth ₹75 crore by farming only 1 per cent (200 ha) of its 21,290 ha of lagoon area (inhabited islands only) at the rate of a modest 150 tonnes per hectare, Koya said.

Terming it as a climate-smart initiative, he said, “The sea being the major sink of carbon and the seaweeds well known for its carbon sequestration properties, seaweed farming at such a scale would sequester nearly 6,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day adding a huge carbon credit to the nation while providing a climate resilient livelihood to the islanders”.

Providing a sound scientific basis for a sustainable seaweed farming enterprise, the CMFRI and the Lakshadweep Krishi Vigyan Kendra is at 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 means to ensure quality seeding materials of indigenous seaweed species jointly with the Lakshadweep administration.

Published on September 06, 2021

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