SMEs digest: Seaweed farming a boon in Tanga

Seaweed farming

What you need to know:

A coastal village, Tawalani, shows the way after netting Sh52 million from the sale of 52 tonnes of seaweed in just six months

Mkinga. Seaweed farming is having a positive impact on coastal villagers in Mkinga District, Tanga Region.

If nothing else, this is proving that they can pursue sea-related, blue economy activities which could improve their lives sooner than later.

For example, the coastal village of Tawalani has realised Sh52 million from the sale of 52 tonnes of seaweed in a period of six months - something which traditional fishing activities never succeeded to do!

The secretary of the Tawalani Village Beach Management Unit (BMU), Salehe Ally Sua, has revealed in an interview with The Citizen that seaweed farming is fast becoming part of their new-found living standards, diversify from traditional fishing which is fraught with little proceeds despite many risks to seaweed farming.

Sua said they have already secured a stable market for seaweed where they would sell their product at Sh 1,250 per kilogramme.

Income from seaweed farming has enabled the villagers to solve most of their socioeconomic problems. But this has not been without challenges, including adverse climate change that results in the destruction of seaweed farms.

There is also the lack of modern seaweed farming equipment.

Speaking recently at the village, the deputy minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Abdallah Ulega, emphasised the need for people living along the Indian Ocean coastline to change their mindset which hinges on traditional fishing as the only way of sustaining their lives.

Mr Ulega noted that coastal people are not used effectively, the potential of aquatic species breeding opportunities, a vocation that now has the potential to change their fortunes into becoming economically strong.

Mr Ulega said the external market for such marine species as crabs and sea cucumbers is growing, presenting an opportunity for coastal villagers to change their lives.

“Coastal villagers are, however, clinging to their traditional fishing methods whose productivity is very low due to lack of modern fishing gear.

They have not yet learned to utilise the potential of aquatic breeding culture that can change their lives with a short time with less risks,” Ulega said.

He said, coastal villagers must respond actively to President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s quest to pursue and develop the blue economy that calls on Tanzanians, especially those living along the coast to expand their scope of economic activities to include breeding of aquatic species, including seaweed, that have extensive markets outside Tanzania.

He said that coastal people can change their lives by fattening crabs and sea cucumbers which fetch high prices outside Tanzania instead of clinging to traditional fishing whose income is dwindling because of a lack of investment in modern fishing.

The Fisheries ministry promised to allocate Sh4 million for helping seaweed farmers at Tawalani to sustain seaweed farming.

The deputy minister also promised further assistance to seaweed farmers in future.

Furthermore, the ministry donated two boat engines worth Sh30 million (Sh15 million each) to the Upendo and Songambele Beach Groups which are deeply involved in seaweed farming.

He, however, warned the groups against using the engines to undertake illegal fishing activities promising that the government would continue to review regulations and levies with a view to improving the fishing environment.