Seaweed farmers in Isles urged to add value to boost crop sales

[Tanzania] Following low prices of seaweeds in Zanzibar, farmers have been urged to form groups in order to have collective bargaining power to get better prices.

Seaweed price in Zanzibar ranges between 400/- and 500/- per kilogram while in Bagamoyo District the product fetches
1500/- per kilogram where famers have managed to add value to the produce.

Ms Kishindo Hamis, the Secretary for Msichoke Seaweed Farmers Group in Bagamoyo, said that they decided to form the group after realizing that they were doing arduous work with low returns.

Ms Hamis was speaking recently to participants at the capacity enhancement training on policy engagement and advocacy work from Zanzibar CSOs who were on a study tour organised by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) and ActionAid Tanzania.

“We started engaging in this business since 1995, when the price of seaweed per kilogram was 80/-, but in 2003, we decided to form this group so that we could have collective bargaining power,” Ms Hamis said.

She explained that earlier some companies had wanted to provide them with farm implements so that they could be sole buyers of the produce, but they later learnt that the contract with traders was exploitative.

“We rejected their contract and decided to go on our own, we agreed to unite so that we could have one voice on issues related to seaweed prices, and we are now selling the crop to traders after bargaining with them,” Ms Hamis said.

She added that the group members have gone further, adding value to the crop by making soaps, juice, cases and other related products.

Jozani Environmental Conservation Association Deputy Secretary from Zanzibar, Mr Awesu Shaban Ramadhani, said that low prices for seaweed was the biggest challenge facing in the isles. According to him, the seaweed prices in Zanzibar ranges between 400/- and 500/- per kilogram, which he said is very low compared to the nature of the work.

He commended Msichoke group for its achievements in transforming the lives of seaweed farmers through value addition of the crop. Mr Ramadhani said that while one kilogram of seaweed in Zanzibar is sold at 400/- and 500/- , in Bagamoyo it is 1500/- and when the same quantity is processed to soap it can fetch 3000/- .

“This is great achievement, seaweed farmers in Zanzibar should learn from Msichoke so that they can benefit from the business,” Mr Ramadhani said. Msichoke group has been working with the Foundation for Civil Society through ActionAid Tanzania.

ActionAid Tanzania Program Officer, Mr Samuel Nasiak said that his organisation has been working with farmers in Bagamoyo by facilitating their groups. He said that Msichoke group has participated fully in policy advocacy, especially on contract farming which was exploitative to seaweed farmers.

He added that the policy advocacy work has also helped them in the formulation of the policy governing coastal and marine resources.


View original article at: Seaweed farmers in Isles urged to add value to boost crop sales

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