Seaweeds are the macroscopic, multicellular, marine algae growing in marine and shallow coastal waters. Recently, they have emerged as the new source of food, energy, chemicals and medicines. They are often termed as the “Medical Food of the 21st Century.” This is due to their use in the treatment of cancer, goitre, bone-replacement therapy and cardiovascular surgeries.
There are around 46 seaweed-based industries in India which are facing problems due to the short supply of food materials. These are used in the preparation of agar, agarose and carrageenam.
Scope of seaweed cultivation in India
There are rich seaweeds around Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Goa, Karwar, Varkala, Vizhinjam and Pulicat in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh; and Chilika in Odisha. They all provide a huge scope for the seaweed cultivation in India.
Seaweed cultivation will go a long way in supporting lives of coastal fisher-families, especially fisher-women, farmers and entrepreneurs. Keeping all these things in mind, the government has set up a fund of around Rs 640 crore for boosting seaweed cultivation in the country.
Seaweeds species and their uses-
Red Seaweeds: Gelidiella acerosa, Gracilaria edulis and G. dura are used for manufacturing Agar. Kappaphycus alvarezii used in manufacturing Carrageenan. Several types of red seaweeds are used in food additives. Chondrus crispus is one of the seaweeds which is used commercially. After being bleached in the sun, the fronds contain a high proportion of gelatin. The gelatin is used for cooking, textile sizing, making cosmetics, and other purposes.
Brown Seaweeds: Sargassum wightii and Turbinaria conoides are used for manufacturing of Alginates. Kelp is one of the most widely consumed seaweeds. It contains many important vitamins (A, K, C, E, B12, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin) and minerals (Fe, Ca, Mg, I2, Na, P).
Green Seaweeds: Ulva species, commonly known as Sea lettuce. Codium, another green algae variety, is the favoured food of some sea slugs.
Seed stock of seaweed is collected from the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu.
Process and Locations for implementation of the project-
- In shallow coastal waters of maritime states.
- Technological Partners – CSIR-Central Salt Marine and Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), Gujarat and Mandapam Regional Centre, Tamil Nadu.
- Implementing Agency – Department of Fisheries in coastal states/UTs.
- Financial Assistance by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).
The Government of India wants to promote seaweed cultivation which will enhance the income of the fishermen, Boost the supply of the raw materials for the dependent industries, help generate employment in the country in this tough times, could overall pose a bright future for the sector, etc.
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