Livelihood aspects of seaweed farming in Rote Island, Indonesia
Indonesia is the main tropical seaweed producer in the world with approximately 70,000 families depending on this activity. The red macroalgae Kappaphycus spp. and Eucheuma denticulatum are the most common species cultivated and used for carrageenan in the processed foods industry. Seaweed farming is an accessible form of mariculture requiring low capital investment and enabling improved living standards in different regions. Nevertheless, farmers suffer from boom and bust cycles due to seaweed price volatility and algal diseases. Limited research has been done on Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, which is among one of the poorest regions in Indonesia where culturing seaweed has become popular. This study assesses seaweed farming practices and their impact on household economy by looking at the overall income generating activities of households involved in seaweed farming. The information was collected using structured interviews with questions related to socio-demographic characteristics, household income, farming practices and challenges. Findings of this study highlight farmers' dependence on seaweed farming activities in southwest Rote, where 50% of the households rely on the income through this activity as their only cash source. During the time of the study, two-thirds of the families were living under the poverty line. Seasonality played a crucial role in seaweed production with negative impacts during the dry season. Thus, families with additional livelihoods seemed to cope better during low production seasons. Seaweed farming practices show room for improvement, and farmers could benefit from activities targeting enhanced productivity of their farms.
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