Cargill promotes sustainable seaweed production in Zanzibar partnering with The Nature Conservancy

ZANZIBAR – Cargill has partnered with The Nature Conservancy, to help seaweed farmers in Zanzibar to adopt best farming practices that will boost their incomes and restore the coastal ecosystem.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.

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The program will be supported by C-Weed Corporation, Cargill’s local supplier and conducted in collaboration with the Government and citizens of Zanzibar.

The pilot initiative announced by Cargill will work with farmers in Pemba and Unguja Islands in the Zanzibar archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Together, the companies aim to provide farmers with adequate support and access to the right infrastructures, to ensure an efficient and sustainable seaweed supply chain.

The program will first work together with farmers to co-develop a locally appropriate set of voluntary industry best practices.

In the first year of the project, The Nature Conservancy will train more than 100 farmers on how best to site, design, and manage their farms and to increase yields while also reducing farming impacts such as impacts to seagrass, mangrove areas, and marine debris on beaches and waterways.

Working with seaweed farming communities, it will identify, train and mentor individuals to be ‘village implementers’ to mentor other farmers, build much-needed local capacity, and ensure farmers involved will have a local specialist to consult throughout the process.

Seaweed farming is one of Zanzibar’s largest export businesses, employing more than 25,000 people, 80 percent of whom are women.

International buyers predict increased demand for seaweed since it is a raw material used in a wide range of increasingly popular products as diverse as confectionary, yogurts, and cosmetics.

According to reports by allied market research, the global seaweed market size was valued at US$4 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach US$9.7 billion by 2024 registering a CAGR of 12.0% from 2018 to 2024.

Dr. Omar A. Amir, Deputy Principle Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries for the Government of Zanzibar, said, “This new project’s support to improve seaweed farming is very timely. We envision it will help address some of the key challenges facing our seaweed sector, and hope it will among others boost local incomes, improve food security, and help conserve the health of our marine environments sustainably.”

When done sustainably, seaweed aquaculture also provides co-benefits to the planet, including improved water quality and conservation of wildlife habitats.

But warming oceans due to climate change, impacts of coastal development, limited aquaculture knowledge and poor seed stocks are combining to make it harder for farmers to sustainably and cost effectively keep up their yields and maintain their livelihoods through seaweed farming.

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That’s driving them to use inappropriate farming practices that amplify negative impacts to the fragile marine environments that their businesses need to thrive, which have already been under threat by a broad suite of human activities.

“Our research shows that when farmed well, seaweed has the unique ability to improve ocean health by providing benefits to water quality and providing habitat for wild fish, in addition to providing a low impact form of jobs in rural coastal communities,” said Robert Jones, global lead for aquaculture for The Nature Conservancy. 

He added, “And we’ve determined that the marine areas in which seaweed farming is most established in Tanzania are among the highest priority locations to protect anywhere in Africa.”

The program will help to ensure that volumes of sustainably farmed seaweed continue to grow for the industry and is traceable through the supply chain, to assure end producers of the social and environmental responsibility of seaweed production.

The programme is part of a broader collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and Cargill aimed at ensuring sustainable food and agricultural production for future generations.

It builds on Cargill’s Red Seaweed Promise, launched in 2019, which seeks to address sustainability challenges for the harvesting and cultivation of red seaweed.

Sebastien Jan, seaweed sourcing and sustainability project manager at Cargill, said, “This new partnership with The Nature Conservancy is one among various initiatives we are excited to announce today that will focus on empowering seaweed producers, improving production and harvesting practices, community support and strengthening partnerships, our four impact areas to deliver on our promise.”

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