Seaweeds exploration vital for economy

[Bangladesh] Seaweed, if systematically cultured and explored, could emerge as a vital agricultural product for coastal people, be consumed as dishes and used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries and contribute to the national economy, said scientists yesterday.

Bangladesh can earn a great deal from farming the marine algae, which is valued at over $US 7.5 billion worldwide by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s statistics of 2014, they told a daylong workshop, “Present Status and Future Prospect of Seaweed in Bangladesh”.

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) organised the event at its seminal hall in the capital’s Farmgate.

Prof Abdul Aziz of Dhaka University’s botany department in a presentation stated how seaweed could grow on rocks, soft sediments, pebbles and even on other marine algae and how it was abundant in St Martin’s Island, Inani Beach, Cox’s Bazar and Sundarbans.

The total production of the submerged standing biomass around St Martin’s Island was about 143,000 tonnes in March and 150,000 tonnes in April, 2013, he added.

Dr Md Kabir Ikramul Haque, member director (fisheries), BARC, in his presentation said seaweed has plenty of essential nutrients, especially trace elements and several other bioactive substances.

“The protein contains very high quality and all the essential and non-essential amino acids. The small amounts of unsaturated lipids afford protection against cardiovascular pathologies.

“Seaweed has an abundance of vitamins, including beta-carotene, which is the precursor of vitamin A, the vitamins of the B group, including B12, vitamin C, D, E and K,” he said.

Seaweed can be cultured for around six months a year and harvested twice a month, he said.

The average cost of cultivating seaweed per square meter is Tk 200 and the average price of cultivated seaweed per square meter is Tk. 650, Dr Kabir said.

He showed that now about 140 species of seaweed were found near St Martin’s Island, five species were available in the Bak Khali- Moheshkhali Channel and 10 species in the mangrove forests.

Associate Prof SM Rafiquzzaman, Faculty of Fisheries, BSMRAU, Gazipur, said like other countries especially China, Japan and South Korea, Bangladesh could boost its economic dimension through exploration of seaweed resources.

Prof M Nurul Absar Khan, Faculty of Fisheries, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, said we can use our 25,000 sq km coastal area; 1,18,813 sq km territorial sea; 710 km long flat sea beach, and the large mangrove forest to cultivate and explore seaweed.

Current 16,000-20,000 kg of seaweed is cultivated and 40,000 to 60,000 kg is harvested from nature, he said.

Price of cultured seaweed goes up to Tk 3,000 per mound and to Tk 1,500 for the same amount of naturally harvested seaweed, he added.

Jahanara Green Agro, a private organisation, is trying to culture seaweed at St Martin’s Island, he informed.

Shyamal Kanti Ghosh, secretary, Ministry of Agriculture; Dr Abul Kalam Azad, executive chairman, BARC; and Dr Md Rafiqul Isla Mondal also spoke.

 

View original article at: Seaweeds exploration vital for economy

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