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Seaweed farming in Zanzibar

A farmer tending her seaweed crop off the island of Zanzibar. A farmer tending her seaweed crop off the island of Zanzibar.

Seaweed farming was introduced to Zanzibar in 1988 and now employs 25,000 people, mostly rural women. More than 150,000 people indirectly benefit from the seaweed industry on the island.

Zanzibar seaweed is in demand but women farmers are unable to farm the higher-value variety because cultivation takes place in deep water and is highly specialised.

Women farmers are also locked into fixed-rate sales with agents, severely limiting the value of their seaweed.

Earning more money

Our project, in the north-east of Unguja Island, is supporting 2,500 of these women farmers to grow better-quality seaweed and make more money from their harvests. For example, we are:

  • training them in deeper water cultivation techniques so they are able to produce higher-quality seaweed
  • developing processing facilities that will add extra value to harvests by drying the seaweed, and by extracting products such as agar and carageena that can be sold for extra income
  • helping women farmers form groups that can make or access small loans to members and negotiate collectively to get better prices for their seaweed.

Farm Africa’s Maendeleo Agricultural Enterprise Fund funds this project – along with other pioneering work with women farmers across the region.

Who are we working with?

We are working with the Socio-Economic Research & Training Association (SERTA), a local non-governmental organisation.

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