Demand for commercially sustainable methods in raising seaweeds

[India] Marine Algal Research Station (MARS) here has developed viable and commercially sustainable methods for cultivating ‘Gracilaria edulis’ and ‘Gelidiella acerosa,’ the two seaweed species, widely used in food and pharmaceutical industries and commanded good demand in the market.

A team of scientists, led by Senior Scientist M. Ganesan, has developed raft method for cultivating the two species and fishermen in the coastal hamlets of the Gulf of Mannar region are all set to take up the cultivation in a couple of months.

Gelidiella acerosa
Gelidiella acerosa

The research station had also developed the method of cultivating Geildiella acersoa in open sea using suspended stones to enhance yield and help the growers get better returns, Mr. Ganesan told The Hindu.

The station had established a model demonstration farm at Eranthurai seashore in Erwadi with funding support from Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GOMBRT) and imparted hands-on training to 20 fisherwomen. These women would begin cultivation in two months after getting funding support, he said.

MARS had approached the Fisheries Department, nationalised banks and GOMBRT to support the beneficiaries with funding, he said, adding two women could jointly set up 50 bamboo rafts at a total cost of Rs. 35,000.

They could cultivate the species and harvest Gracilaria edulis in 45 days and Gelidiella acerosa in 150 days. They could harvest about 15 kg of edulis and six kg of acerosa in each raft, Mr. Ganesan said.

“We proposed to rope in women fisherfolk in all the 25 hamlets in the Gulf of Mannar region in a phased manner,” he said.

These two species had huge demand in the market and the agar and alginate processing industries were presently importing the species from Mexico and Sri Lanka. The industries imported acerosa for Rs. 250 per kg and the growers in the Gulf of Manner could sell it easily for Rs. 120 per kg, he said. The growers could sell edulis at the rate of Rs. 50 per kg, he added.

Vaibav A. Mantri, Senior Scientist and scientist in-charge, MARS, said that there were 21 agar industries in the State but they were not functioning up to their rated capacity owing to short supply of raw materials.

Photo: Fisherwomen using raft method for seaweed cultivation at Erwadi, where Marine Algal Research Station has established a model farm.

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