The activity is also seen as an alternative to fishing due to a decline in fish stocks and a less risky activity than farming.
“We are unable to engage in meaningful farming on dry land since wild animals such as the colobus monkey, wild pigs and baboons regularly invade our farms. They can destroy crops on a one-acre piece of land within a day”, said seaweed farmer, Fatuma Mohammed.
In this coastal town, seaweed farming mostly employs women who previously were not allowed to engage in fishing. Many also see it as being more lucrative than farming.
“Farming on dry land is expensive, as it requires different types of fertilizers that may be water-based and thus need to be sprayed onto plants or applied in soil. The use of chemical fertilizers has led to soil degradation thus leading to reduced yields. Seaweed farming is the better option, as we are able to reap benefits”, concluded the seaweed farmer.
The project is mostly supported by Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), a national research institute promoting the “sustainable development of the Blue Economy.”
“The yields from farming on dry land are not great, since there are many challenges, such as invasions from wild animals and thieves. The yields were also negatively affected by low amounts of rainfall this year”, said Nasoro, a field officer from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).
Most of the raw materials produced by the group are exported to markets in South Africa, the US and China.
Extracts from dried seaweed can be used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as well as soil fertilizer.