Turning nuisance Sargasum into profit

[Sierra Leone] His creative genius in transforming seaweed-which seems to be like an environmental catastrophe – into profit has shone a light of hope on the faces of professionals from across the sub region, whose shores like Sierra Leone are invaded by the Sargassum seaweed.

Since 2011, the Sargassum Seaweed has invaded the shores of countries on the coastline of West Africa causing negative socio-economic impact.

The once beautiful beaches are now marred by seaweed emitting pungent smells and distorting the fresh sea breeze many beach lovers so cherish.

In some countries tourism and artisanal fishing are hugely affected, causing a downturn in their economies.

However, Sierra Leonean Industrialist and inventor Foday Melvin Kamara, has decided to turn the negative in to positive. In a unique and unprecedented manner for Sierra Leone Mr Kamara has developed new ways in transforming seaweed into viable products.
As Managing Director of Fomel Industry and National Industrialization Centre (FINIC), Mr. Foday Melvin Kamara, made a brilliant presentation on how he uses Sargassum seaweed, to produce cattle and fish feed; gas and biomass that can be used to generate electricity or heat to meet our cooking needs.

Attendees at the recently concluded Regional Expert meeting on Seaweed invasion at Country Lodge, Freetown were wowed by his presentation.

In an interview with Awoko, Mr. Kamara said, “the seaweed is a blessing in disguise.” He explained that what seems to be an environmental adversity could be of economic gains. The Industrialist said clearing the Sargassum seaweed along the coastline, and bagging it for industrial purposes, could create jobs for lots of unemployed youths.

Mr. Kamara explained that deforestation is a huge challenge given the fact that a huge number of the population rely on charcoal to meet their cooking needs. “In an effort to address this problem, he said “I have used the seaweed to produce charcoal, which are cheaper and of good quality than the wood charcoal,”

He also revealed that the seaweeds could also be used to generate electricity.

FINNIC he said, has extracted gas from the Sargassum seaweeds, which can power a generator to generate electricity.

He explained that, “a 1-megawatt of my equipment could be installed along the costal line, for example Lumley or Levuma beach, where the seaweed could be gathered by youths, who would in turn sell it to the operator by kilo or ton. This would not only leave the beaches clean as it used to; it would also become a viable business for young people.

The MD appealed to both local and international organizations to support local industries like FINNIC, which has the technical expertise to transform it to economically viable products.

About the origin of the Sargasum seaweed, Mr. Kamara opined that it could be direct or indirect man-made. He accused the commissioning of turbines under the sea in Alaska in order to generate electricity from the current of the sea, as one of the causes. “When this turbine spins it shakes the seabed, sending the seaweeds afloat.”

He said that Sargassum seaweed is from the Sargassum Sea closer to America, adding that the Sagassum Sea has no shore, thus the water continually spins at that point because of the current, which subsequently sends the seaweed afloat.

Mr. Kamara opined that the turbines in Alaska might be a ripple effect in the Sargassum Sea.

Some of the MD’s experience with the Sargassum Seaweed is different than others from the sub region who have experienced toxicity and acidic elements from the seaweed. “I have not experienced any Acidic or Toxic elements. I have tasted it, and it is neither sweet nor bitter or acidic. In fact some Asian countries used it as a delicacy or to brew tea,” he said.

Without ruling out the claims of regional professionals, Mr. Kamara said probably as a result of the trajectory the route through which the seaweeds travel to reach the shores of the different West Africac countries might be responsible why some are experiencing acidic or toxic elements on the seaweed upon reaching their shores.

 

View original article at: Sierra Leone News: Inventor: Turns Seaweed into Profit

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