Lakshadweep wakes up to seaweed farming; CMFRI kicks off demo cultivation
The Union Territory of Lakshadweep, the cluster of islands off the Kerala coast, is seeing a revolution of sorts. Tourism has been among the USPs of these tiny islands for a while now, but it is another domain that’s being spoken about of late. Lakshadweep has accorded priority to seaweed farming as a development driver of the future.
The administration has unveiled a massive demonstration farming of seaweed was in nine inhabited islands of Lakshadweep with the technical support of the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). This mega initiative stems from the findings of a CMFRI study, which revealed the immense potential for the production of quality seaweeds in serene and pollution-free lagoons of Lakshadweep for high-end utilisation like pharmaceuticals, food and nutraceuticals.
Lakshadweep stands to be the seaweed farming hub of India soon
According to a CMFRI spokesperson, indigenous red algae such as Gracilaria edulis and Acanthophora spicifera are currently being cultivated in as many as 2500 bamboo rafts. This initiative stands to benefit close to 100 families belonging to 10 women self-help groups in different islands.
Dr K. Mohammed Koya, a scientist at CMFRI, said that the islands will soon be renowned for their seaweed farming. “Known for its unique tuna fisheries and myriads of beautiful corals, reef fishes and other creatures, now the marine sphere of the islands are more likely to be known as the seaweed farming hub of India soon,” he pointed out.
The CMFRI had funded by way of research that unprecedented growth performance of indigenous species in various lagoons of Lakshadweep with nearly 60-folds growth in 45 days for the species Gracilaria edulis is possible. The CMFRI has now been aided by the Lakshadweep Administration to bring into effect multi-locational trial farming and capacity building of stakeholders.
Islands have potential to grow seaweed worth Rs 75 cr a year
CMFRI revealed that an experimental-scale trial farming was conducted in the islands of Kiltan, Chetlah Kadmath, Agatti and Kavaratti during 2020-21 with promising results.
“The studies revealed that the island territory has a potential of producing nearly 30,000 tons of dry seaweed per year worth Rs 75 crore by farming only 1 per cent (200ha) of its 21,290 ha of lagoon area or the inhabited islands, at the rate of a modest 150 ton per hectare”, Dr Koya said.
The CMFRI scientist believes that the venture is a climate-smart initiative, adding that “the sea being the major sink of carbon and the seaweeds well known for its carbon sequestration properties, the farming at such a scale would sequester nearly 6500t carbon dioxide per day adding a huge carbon credit to the nation while providing a climate-resilient livelihood to the islanders”.
Various departments such as Fisheries, Environment & Forests and Rural Development have come together to aid the CMFRI so as to ensure that the demonstration focuses on the popularisation of the venture, capacity building of stakeholders and pre-feasibility and impact assessment for planned development of the enterprise in the islands.
CMFRI to assess carrying capacity of lagoons
The CMFRI and the Lakshadweep Krishi Vigyan Kendra operating as part of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute are now working on assessing the carrying capacity of the lagoons, spatial mapping of suitable farming sites, standardising farming methods for year-round farming in deeper areas and means to ensure quality seeding materials of indigenous species jointly with the Lakshadweep administration.
The latest large-scale farming of indigenous species launched in Lakshadweep under CMFRI guidance is expected to aid the economy of the islands and could play a major role in this regard ain to what fisheries, coconut and tourism had done earlier. An archipelago of 36 islands in the Arabian sea, Lakshadweep lies 200 to 440 km away from mainland India’s southwestern coast.