For the first time in Orissa, seaweed cultivation has started on an experimental basis. Red algae, seaweed and a potential source of the phycocolloid agar, has been cultivated in Langaleswar village near Khallikote, off the Ganjam coast with the involvement of members of the women self-help groups (SHG).
The cultivation of the red algae is on a pilot basis and is part of the research project on Development and demonstration of appropriate strategies for marine algae cultivation and processing for livelihood generation in the coastal areas of Orissa. The three-year project of the Science and Society Division, Department of Science and Technology, Central government, costs around Rs 20 lakh. As red algae are much in demand in agar-agar industries, we hope the lower income group (LIG) of the coastal villages in the state will get extra income with the cultivation of this seaweed,” said Sailabala Padhy, the principal investigator of the project.
Around 60 womenfolk in the village have started to cultivate the seaweed after training. Now they have at least 500 kg of the dry red algae in stock. We are purchasing these from them at the rate of Rs 10 a kg, said Padhy. After we collect from them, we will supply these to the agar-agar industries. We have decided to purchase the seaweed worth Rs 3,000 a month from them, she added. The seaweed demand is increasing worldwide as its extracts are widely used in toothpaste, ice-cream, textile printing, teeth filling, cosmetics, tissue culture, plywood, packaging and several other industries. Red algae can be cultivated in the Chilika coast, particularly the Ganjam district. The principal investigator of the project said seaweed cultivation was like any other aquaculture. Investment in cultivation is less, but profit is more, she said.
In Langaleswar village on the coast of the Chilika, the women groups cultivate the weeds in several rafts and within the cultivation of 15 days, the results were quite satisfactory, she said. Several experts including project coordinator Deenabandhu Sahu of New Delhi, who visited the site and interacted with the cultivators, expressed their satisfaction and suggested the expansion of the area under cultivation. Seaweed cultivation and utilization is one of the alternatives, that can create a large number of employment, in the coastal area especially for women, she said.