Zanzibar secures market for neglect seaweed

NEWLY established Zanzibar Seaweed Company (ZASCO) has secured the market for the Ulva seaweed variety, which was previously disregarded as waste and environmental nuisance.

ZASCO Director General Dr Masoud Rashid Mohammed said here over the weekend that the company has since September last year spent over 960m/- in the purchase of 1,200 tonnes at 800/- per kilogramme.

“Besides boosting the incomes of about 10,000 Zanzibaris, the business has helped to address the environmental challenges at our beaches,” Dr Masoud told the Daily News, noting that the self-grown seaweed had always been an environmental bother along the beaches.

Ulva Lactuca is considered one of the most useful seaweeds, and its applications include applications in food, agriculture, pharmacology and medicine, the common name is sea lettuce–because of its appearance.

Ulva is considered a good source of nutrition. It contains high amounts of cobalamin, or vitamin B12, which plays an important role in maintaining the homeostasis of the brain and nervous system, as well as the formation of blood.

He said there is an investor who has expressed interest to invest in an Ulva processing plant in Zanzibar.

And, hardly a year since it started business in April last year, Dr Masoud said, ZASCO has influenced seaweed price hike of between 17 and 43 per cent to 2,100/- per kilogramme.

“We have experienced price rise albeit small even before we embark on domestic processing,” Dr Masoud said, assuring that after completion of the multi-billion processing plant in Chamanangwe, Pemba, seaweed prices will skyrocket further.

Since ZASCO entered the seaweed buying business, the price of spinosum seaweed has risen by 43 per cent from 700/- to 1,000/- per kg while the cottonii variety’s has increased to 2,100/- from the previous 1,800/- per kg, a 17 per cent rise.

Dr Masoud said the 30-tonne capacity processing plant will transform the seaweed industry in the country into a money-minting undertaking.

“Seaweed farming is soon becoming the most lucrative business, with ZASCO being among the giant companies in Zanzibar,” he said.

He challenged the private players in the industry to embrace value addition, which is the focus of the government.

“ZASCO has its doors open to all stakeholders who are willing to work together in value addition,” he said.

ZASCO, the brain-child of President Hussein Mwinyi,  is registered as a public company whose key task is to manage the seaweed business in the country. it was registered last January.

Zanzibar Social Security Fund is the major shareholder with over 50 per cent shares while Zanzibar Insurance Corporation and Zanzibar Ports.

Corporation control 26 and 11 per cent, respectively. Zanzibar State Trading Corporation controls the remaining shares.

President Mwinyi has since his election to the highest office in the land in October 2020 remained keen on seaweed, devising various measures to boost the production and marketing of the oceanic produce.

He has put special emphasis on domestic processing, arguing that there is no miracle to pay high prices to farmers in the absence of “our own processing plants.”

Dr Mwinyi says the government is embracing spice farming, which he appreciates as highly lucrative and fits well in Zanzibar’s limited land.

The Chamanangwe plant whose construction work is in speedy progress is perceived as the panacea to the seaweed price challenges in the country.

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