|The Eucheuma Seaweed Story in the Western Indian Ocean Region: Past, Present and Future (COSTECH, 1994, 33 p.)|
Africa is known to be resource-rich, but cash-poor. This is attributable to the fact that many of her natural resources have not been exploited meaningfully. One of the most neglected of Africas natural resources, represents a large, heterogeneous assemblage of aquatic plants, referred to as seaweeds. In this lecture, some highlights will be given on one of such seaweeds: Eucheuma.
The seaweed genus Eucheuma falls within the domain of the division of marine plants referred to as Rhodophyta (or Red Algae). Its various species are tropical and subtropical, and occur in lagoons which are protected from violent sea waves by coral reefs and offshore islands. The genus is best known in South-east and East Asia, where its various species have been used as a food item for humans from days immemorial.
In the Philippines, fronds of Eucheuma species are eaten as a salad. In Latin America, some of the species are used as an aphrodisiac. In the Malaysian archipelago, the seaweed is boiled to produce an edible gel, which is used in various food preparations. In Tanzania, species of Eucheuma (locally known as mwani) have been articles of trade and commerce for over four decades. Currently, the seaweed is a cultivated cash crop, which provides employment opportunities to over 15,000 people in Tanzanias rural coastal village communities, and to a lot more in me Philippines. In this paper me author presents a historical setting towards our knowledge on the Eucheuma seaweed, with special reference to its biology, ecology, and agronomy, and also his vision on the future application Africas seaweed resources in human affairs.