Farming seaweed has become a viable and highly beneficial part of expanding the blue economy with success stories from rural areas of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
The life of Mutha Muthuvel Sambai has changed through training in seaweed cultivation and farming and exposure to the market demands of seaweed.
Cutting out the role of the middlemen, she is now directly selling products to the entrepreneurs, thereby increasing her income by around 50 per cent.
Mutha, a member of the Kanthariamman Society for Seaweed Cultivation and Seaweed Products Production Organization, who is cultivating seaweeds for the last 17 years, is among the 2,000 people trained by the Marine Algal Research Station, a unit of the Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research-Central Salt And Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSIR-CSMCRI) located at Mandapam in Tamil Nadu.
Seaweeds are macroscopic algae, also termed as the ‘Medical Food of the 21st Century’ due to their usage as laxatives.
They are also used for making pharmaceutical capsules for the treatment of goiter, cancer, bone-replacement therapy, and cardiovascular surgeries.
These numerous uses make seaweed a product high in demand. Locals have been cultivating it for a long time but lacked the skills necessary for harnessing its full potential. This is where CSIR-CSMCRI stepped in and took up the initiative to impart necessary skills.
CSIR-CSMCRI’s efforts have helped develop skills in cultivating seaweed, employing appropriate technology, enhancing biomass productivity of seaweeds for industrial requirements, and encouraging entrepreneurship development on seaweed-based activities among community-based organisations and Self Help Groups in Mandapam, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.
The trained locals include many women who are the breadwinners of their families are now earning handsome dividends through seaweed farming.
Several women groups have benefited, and the capacity built through the CSIR-CSMCRI training and technology have ensured livelihood for the local population and also gone a long way in empowering them.