Seaweed in Indonesia
Restoring production to ensure a stable income for seaweed farmers
After China, Indonesia is the second biggest seaweed producer in the world, contributing to 38% of the global seaweed market. Seaweed cultivation in Indonesia is largely concerned with the production of carrageenan. Extracted from edible seaweeds, this by-products is used widely in the food and cosmetic industries as a natural gelling agent.
Contrary to the ever-increasing opportunities and demand for seaweed, its production has been declining in Indonesia over the past 10 years. Rapid tourism development, the clearing of seaweed wetland habitats, and concerns of pollution all threaten the national market. Seaweed production needs to be restored to ensure a stable income for seaweed farmers.
Rikolto helps improve the livelihood of seaweed farmers through innovative seaweed agribusiness practices. With a strong focus on product value adding, and increasing harvest quantity and quality, we collaborate with seaweed farmers from two locations within eastern Indonesia: Nusa Penida and Sikka, Flores.
- Compromised land due to tourism development
- Polluted waterways threaten the success of seaweed farming. Indonesia is the second biggest plastic producer in the world.
- Lack of consistency regarding seaweed quality
- Perceptions of contamination of seaweed in Sikka, Flores
- Lack of organisation within farmer cooperatives in Nusa Penida
- Herbivory from turtles, dugongs and herbivorous fish
- Provide better quality seed
- Workshops to improve farming techniques
- Improve post-harvest and processing
- Multi-stakeholder meetings engaging all sectors of the community to promote the consumption and sale of seaweed products
- Greater market research to understand potential new derivative products
- Development of a seaweed centre
- Training farmers to make derivative products
- Lobby government to protect seaweed growing sites and promote the industry
- Technology that adapts to seaweed farming to minimise predation
Government support is key to reviving seaweed in Sikka
Seaweed used to be ‘a jewel of the sea’ for farmers living in coastal villages in Sikka, East Nusa Tenggara. However, the seaweed industry has experienced a major setback due to various factors, causing farmers to leave the business. Rikolto and the Regional Government of Sikka Regency are now taking up the challenge to put life back into this waning sector.
Head of Sikka Regency, Fransiskus Roberto Diogo, spoke at the ‘Creating Synergies to Develop Seaweed Cultivation' workshop in Sikka, (23/1/2019), announcing that he was committed to collaborating with Rikolto, farmers and the private sector to revive seaweed cultivation in Sikka. The workshop brought together government agencies in Sikka, Rikolto, Kalimajari Foundation and representatives from seaweed farming pilot villages.
The workshop was proven to be fruitful for all parties involved. Workshop participants acknowledged the importance of seaweed cultivation in improving the local economy, especially considering work opportunities for rural communities. Most importantly, the Regional Government of Sikka gave full support to making seaweed cultivation part of the regional government’s development agenda.
Through the workshop, it was also agreed that the regional government would support seaweed cultivation in the following:
• Marine and Fisheries Regency of Sikka will prioritise developing seaweed farmers’ groups. They will also provide guidance regarding marine spatial planning to ensure sustainable seaweed cultivation without damaging the marine ecosystem.
• Community and Village Empowerment Agency of Sikka will circulate a letter to provide guidance and give approval for villages to allocate their budgets to seaweed cultivation.
• Investment and Licensing Services Agency of Sikka will provide a recommendation letter for potential investors who are committed to investing in the seaweed industry.
• Trade and Industry Agency of Sikka will be involved in the future to organise farmers in a village-owned enterprise (Badan Usaha Milik Desa/Bumdes). Bumdes will directly buy seaweed from farmers to secure incomes.
Through the workshop conducted by Rikolto, the local government, private sector, farmers and NGOs agreed on an action plan to revive the seaweed sector in Sikka.
Significant progress took place in the seaweed sector.
A decade after the collapse of the seaweed industry in Sikka, seaweed farmers have started to cultivate seaweed again. We link farmers with a Village-Owned Enterprise that will market raw dried seaweed from farmers.
Women seaweed farmers in Nusa Penida have received additional income through seaweed-based product development, such as soaps, body scrubs, and noodles. We helped farmers distribute the products to hotels in Bali. Some of these products were already exhibited at the Trade Expo Indonesia 2019.
Seaweed ecotourism and educational-tourism was launched in Nusa Lembongan. The site is managed by seaweed farmers who directly received the financial benefits from tourism.
Rikolto started the seaweed programme in 2018.
In Sikka, there are only a few remaining seaweed farmers and Rikolto wants them to earn better income from seaweed. In 2018, we trained farmers, tested several planting techniques, and engaged various stakeholders through multistakeholder dialogues at the district and provincial level.
In Nusa Penida, we created a niche market for seaweed products by training female seaweed farmers to make seaweed-based products.