Zanzibar seaweed farmers threatened by climate change

[Zanzibar] Seaweed farming in Zanzibar is reportedly in danger due to an increase in the sea temperatures, threatening the livelihoods of the thousands of women farmers on the island.

According to ABP News, climate change was causing the sea temperatures to rise above 30°C, introducing killer diseases like ice-ice, thus, attracting bacteria and hardening the seaweed.

Female seaweed farmer in Zanzibar (Marco Longari/AFP)

Seaweed farming was introduced to the islanders in the 1980’s, and since then, it had become the third largest exporter of seaweed in the world, the report said.

Zanzibar Exporters Association Secretary General, Khamis Issa Mohammed, told News24 that seaweed exports had dropped over the years by half from the recorded high of 16 000 tons per year to only 8 000 tonnes per year.

“The island had about 23 000 people in the seaweed trade at one point where more than 80% were women but in recent times that has drastically dropped, as farmers are now discouraged by the struggles faced in the industry,” he said.

Mohammed said that the government should work with the private-sector in supporting them through implementing better policies and helping the seaweed farmers that are in dire need.

Female farmer cultivating seaweed in Zanzibar (Marco Longari/AFP)

According to BBC, men were very reluctant to farm seaweed at first thinking it was not worth it. They also did not want their wives to farm either, believing that they should only stay indoors doing house chores. The men eventually gave in, resulting in a liberated force of female seaweed farmers contributing to the household income.

 

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