Islanders earn money through seaweed farming

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 19th September 2012

THEY may be losing their land but they still have the sea. That is what the Carterets Islanders in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are making use of and are earning money through seaweed farming.
The concept was introduced seven months ago from the Solomon Islands following a visit by a delegation from the Atolls.
Solomon Islands national fisheries seaweed consultant Lamora Vara said the leaders took interest and decided to introduce it to the Atolls with Carterets as the first to pilot the project.
Vara said so far, more than 500 people had taken part in the project, farming their own seaweed seedlings.
He said it took six weeks for the seaweed to reach maturity and four days to dry in the sun before it was packed and sold.
Vara, who has more than 10 years experience in processing seaweed, said the seedlings were brought in from the Solomon Islands.
He said seaweed farming was introduced to the Solomon Islands in the 1980s but died out and was revived in 2000.
He said the Carteret Islanders would sell their first harvest in two weeks to buyers from Asia and Europe.
He said in the Solomon Islands a kilogramme of seaweed usually sold for Solomon $5 (K15).
Cosmas Babes from Han, one of the six islands of Carterets, said the island was facing food shortages with salt water invading the land.
He said that had affected the soil quality, making the land too salty for them to grow crops like the swamp taro, which was their staple.
He said the relief supply was not enough to sustain them and he was pleased this would help them in income generation.
Babes’ wife, Elizabeth Kiria, said the seaweed project would help her and other families make money to buy food.