The important vegetable derived from the sea is used as a raw material in various industries, including food, medicine and cosmetics, says an expert
Farmers have achieved success while cultivating seaweed in the coastal areas of Cox's Bazar.
The seaweeds produced here are being used in the production of a wide range of items, including food, medicine, cosmetics, fertilizers, biofuels and products to prevent environmental pollution.
Seaweed grows in both saline and semi-saline water and can be easily cultivated. As a result, there is ample opportunity for seaweed to be used locally as well as for export.
In addition to men, a significant number of women are engaged in seaweed production, processing and marketing. This has strengthened the financial position of their families as well as ensured the empowerment of women.
Experimental cultivation of two species of seaweed first began at Saint Martin’s Island in 2010. And since 2016, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has been cultivating seaweed in the coastal areas of Cox's Bazar.
Coordinated by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and funded by Agricultural Research Foundation, the project will continue till September this year.
Seaweed is being cultivated in the coastal areas of Nuniarchhara, Rejukhal, Charpara and Chofaldandi in Cox's Bazar. About 400 agricultural families are involved in this project worth about Tk4 crore.
Saidul Alam, a seaweed farmer from Nuniarchhara area, said: “I started cultivating seaweed after receiving training from BARI. Now, I have achieved self-sufficiency by cultivating seaweed in the char areas at the mouth of the Bakkhali River.”
Nasima Begum, another seaweed farmer, said: “I cultivate seaweed using bamboo, cane, rope and floating plastic buoys I acquired from BARI. I sell seaweed worth Tk80,000-Tk1 lakh every season. This year it was supplied to different areas of Bandarban's Lama, Alikadam and Thanchi.”
Besides Saidul and Nasima, Rokeya Begum, Farida Yasmin, Mohammad Hossain, Abul Kalam, Sadek Hossain, Helal Uddin and many others have become self-sufficient through seaweed cultivation.
Md Sharfuddin Bhuiyan, head of BARI’s Cox's Bazar office, said: “Since 2016, we have been carrying out research and cultivation of seaweed in the coastal reservoirs of Teknaf, Ukhiya and Sadar upazilas of Cox's Bazar. Apart from its high nutritional values, there is a rising demand for seaweed as raw materials for food and medicine industries. Of the 215 species of seaweed in 102 groups in Bangladesh, 12 species of seaweed were collected from Saint Martin's Island and its vicinity. Of these, 6 to 2 species of seaweed are being cultivated in our country.”
BARI’s Chief Scientific Officer Akkas Ali says seaweed is an important vegetable from the sea. “It is used as a raw material in various industries, including food, medicine and cosmetics. It can be exported to international markets after meeting local demand. Seeds are being produced in the laboratory for supply to farmers.”