|The Eucheuma Seaweed Story in the Western Indian Ocean Region: Past, Present and Future (COSTECH, 1994, 33 p.)|
(38) With the arrangements to supply nylon lines to the villagers, increasingly more people have got involved in seaweed farming. And the momentum is still high. The majority of Eucheuma farmers are found on the eastern shoreline of Zanzibar, but attempts to cultivate the seaweed in Pemba, Mafia, and Mtwara, have also been made, and found to show a lot of promise.
(39) The majority of seaweed farmers in Tanzania (60% to 80% of them) are women. And the monetary returns from their activities are quite lucrative. Many of them earn up to T.Shs. 60,000/= or more, per month, which is considerably more than the basic monthly salaries of mid-level civil servants in the country.
(40) Since the monetary benefits from the seaweed farming activities are so lucrative, and since the proportion of female farmers is so high, the money power in the coastal village localities engaged in seaweed farming, is increasingly getting into the hands of women. Undoubtedly this is helping to increase their status in the society. From the seaweed farming income the villagers are now:
· building better houses,
· purchasing better furniture,
· able to afford better clothing,
· able to buy radios, bicycles, school books for their children, and (generally),
· enjoying a better quality of life.
(41) Currently, about 15,000 rural coastal village communities in Tanzania are actively engaged in seaweed farming. Thus the innovation has helped to generate new employment opportunities in the country.
(42) The dense population of Eucheuma in the farms is providing new ecological niches for the fish fry. Fish populations, therefore, build up on the farms, and the villagers catch some of the fish, thus returning home with protein food for their families. Fish protein intake in the villages undertaking seaweed farming is thus increasing. This is one of the important spill-over effects of the innovation.
(43) Additionally, the villagers are increasingly becoming more and more aware of the fact that many seaweeds are edible, others are suitable as agricultural fertilizers, as livestock feed supplements, or as a cure for ailments such as goitre, hypovitaminoses, stomach troubles, and even kwashiorkor.
(44) Collectively, the seaweed farmers in Tanzania are now able to produce some 5000 tonnes of Eucheuma per annum, dry weight, which is over ten-fold what they used to produce, when the biomass of the seaweed that was exported, was solely dependent on wild seaweed crop harvests. Translated into US dollars, the seaweed biomass generated by our coastal village communities is in excess of US $ 2.0 million, per annum, which is quite substantial by Third World rural standards. This takes us to the Words of an Anonymous Chinese poet who, in 400 B.C. wrote:
...If you are thinking a year ahead, sow a seed,
If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree,
If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, educate the. people.
By sowing a seed, you will harvest once,
By planting a tree, you will harvest tenfold,
By educating the people, you will harvest one hundredfold.
And I am saying, that if you educate the people on how to cultivate seaweeds, you will harvest more than one hundredfold. On this (score), we still have a long way to go, when we compare our performance with that of the people of the Philippines, who now earn over 50.0 million U.S. dollars from their annual sales of Eucheuma.