Ahmedabad: The state-run Gujarat Livelihood Promotion Company (GLPC) has joined hands with Central Salt Marine & Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI) to encourage seaweed cultivation along the state coast, which can be a source of livelihood for the local residents.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and CSMCRI has introduced the seaweed `Kappahycus Alvarezii` in India. It finds application in several industries such as pet food, breweries, fertiliser, etc.
"We have inked an MoU with CSMCRI for exclusive rights on seaweed introduced by them through technology transfer," said Milind Torawane, MD, GLPC.
"In the first year we seek to generate livelihood for 2,500 lower income group families, either by forming Self Help Groups or on producers group model," he said. This would be expanded to 10,000 families over the next three years.
The project would start from Jaffrabad tomorrow, where a symbolic 60 bamboo rafts would be put up in the sea for seaweed cultivation.
Around 1,900 areas suitable for cultivation along Gujarat coast had been mapped by satellite, Torawane said.
This red seaweed is already cultivated along the Tamil Nadu coast, and locals there are earning Rs 6,000 to 12,000 per month, according to officials.
The seaweed matures in 45 days from planting, with each raft yielding 250 kg of produce. It fetches Rs 2-3 per kg, institute sources said.
Five locations in Saurashtra had been identified to generate `germplasm` (seed), said C R K Reddy, a senior scientist at CSMCRI.
"On filtering fresh seaweed crush we get sap, which is a very good plant nutrient. The residue polysaccharides find usage as binder, thickener and emulsifier," Reddy said.
Amid unconfirmed reports of accidental damage to corals by the seaweed, the institute has decided that cultivation will be away from ecologically sensitive zones.
CSMCRI had brought strains of the seaweed way back in 90`s from Japan and thereafter got a US patent on how to protect the germplasm.
Kappahycus alvarezi also produces ethanol. Its cultivation does not need pesticides.
The seaweed cultivation is done extensively in countries such as Philippines and Indonesia, and there is a scope for similar large-scale cultivation in India, the officials believe.