Fisheries Department Secretary of India, Rajiv Ranjan has stated that India aims to increase seaweed production up to 11.5 lakh tonnes from 2,500 tonnes in the next five years by using only 1 percent of the 8,000 km coastline and has secured ₹640 crores for developing the seaweed industry.
It is mainly a cottage industry and is based only on the natural stock of agar-yielding red seaweeds, such as Gelidiella acerosa, Gracilaria edulis, and algin yielding brown seaweeds.
Ranjan mentioned that currently, the Indian seaweed production is restricted to the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay in Tamil Nadu at a curtain raiser event for an international webinar on entrepreneurship development on seaweed business held on 28th of January by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), together with Department of Fisheries of India. However, Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Goa, Karwar, Varkala, Vizhinjam, Pulicat, and Chilka also have rich seaweed beds.
Similar to the webinars organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation and FEDERPESCA, an active member of the Italy-IORA Committee, this webinar has also covered the role of women in aquaculture and the ways of creating fisherwomen cooperatives to encourage seaweed cultivation at a large scale across several coastal States in India.
According to Ranjan, at the moment, the produced seaweed is used for plant growth factor, which reduces the fertilizer requirement by 13 percent, and various industries such as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, food, and cosmetics.
Besides the fact that seaweed production needs little capital investment, it also has minimum technological requirements and provides economic opportunities to marginal coastal communities.
(Read more: The Hindu BusinessLine)