India plans to increase the country’s output of seaweed to 11.5 lakh tonnes from the current level of production of 2,500 tonnes over the next five years. According to Fisheries Secretary Rajiv Ranjan on Monday, this can be accomplished by using only 1% of its 8,000-kilometer-long coastline.
Production of seaweed globally is $12-15 and is projected to rise to $26 billion by 2025. China and Indonesia respectively have 80 per cent of the market share. While India is only aiming for low-hanging fruits in the industry, it can easily achieve its set goal. The development of seaweed in India is currently primarily confined to the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Ranjan, at a curtain raiser function here for a webinar on seaweed business entrepreneurship development to take place later this week, stated.
Ranjan is sad that the promotion of the production of seaweed, which needs little capital expenditure, is going to be a huge component of the 20,000-crore PM Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). The govt has allocated 640 crore for the nation’s production of the seaweed sector.
The online conference, organized by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) and the Department of Fisheries, will discuss how cooperatives for fisherwomen could be formed to promote large-scale production of seaweed across many coastal states in the country, said Sundeep Nayak, Managing Director of NCDC.
Seaweeds flourish extensively along the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and around the islands of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar. Round the Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Goa, Karwar, Varkala, Vizhinjam, Pulicat and Chilka, there are indeed rich seaweed beds. Approximately 60 species are commercially important out of nearly 500 species of sea algae present in both intertidal and deeper water regions of the Indian coast line.
The Indian seaweed sector is primarily a cottage industry and is focused solely on the natural stocks of red seaweeds producing agar, such as Gelidiella acerosa and Gracilaria edulis, and of brown seaweed species producing algin, such as Sargassum and Tubineria.
Most of the seaweed developed in India is presently used as a plant growth agent, which lowers fertiliser requirements by nearly 13 %, Ranjan said. In a range of sectors, such as pharmaceutical products, nutritional supplements, food and cosmetics, they are often used. These seaweed-derived materials are presently being imported by Indian companies from many other countries, he added.
Seaweed farming, in comparison to other types of aquaculture, has minimal capital and technical needs and offers marginalized coastal communities with minimal livelihood choices major economic opportunities.