CMFRI marks 342 potential sites for seaweed farming with a projected production of 9.7 million tonnes per year
Kochi: India cultivated around 34000 tonnes of seaweeds in 2021, according to the estimates of the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). Stressing the need for upscaling seaweed farming, Dr A Gopalakrishnan, Director of ICAR-CMFRI said that the institute has done georeferencing of 342 suitable farming sites for its cultivation in the country sprawling over 24167 ha with a production potential of 9.7 million tonnes (wet weight) per year.
He was speaking at a National Campaign on ‘Non-conventional Aquaculture Systems’ organised by the CMFRI as part of the Azadi Ka Amirt Mahotsav on Wednesday. “While referring to the global production that is 35 million tonnes worth 16.5 billion dollars in 2022 so far, India is far behind in terms of seaweed production”, he added.
Citing that the country is taking all measures to boost its production, Dr Gopalakrishnan pointed out that the government earmarked Rs640 crore exclusively to promote seaweed culture with a targeted production of more than 11.2 lakh tonnes by 2025.
“The CMFRI has successfully standardised the practice of Integrated Multitophic Aquaculture (IMTA) which enables cage farming or bivalve farming along with seaweed farming in coastal waters,” he said adding that this technology would help popularise and boost seaweed farming across the coastal states.
Referring to its environmental benefits, he said that seaweed farming can earn carbon credits in many ways and cited the example of replacing fodder with the value-added products of the plants to reduce methane emission from cattle to great extent.
Abhiram Seth, Managing Director of AquAagri Processing said that deep sea areas should be identified to increase the production. Emphasising the need for large quantity of planting material for the large-scale expansion of seaweed farming, Mr. Seth expressed the interest in collaborating with ICAR-CMFRI for commercial-level micro-propagation based seaweed seed production.
The meet also highlighted the importance of bivalve farming, another non-conventional aquaculture practice. According to the CMFRI estimates, India’s bivalve production in 2021 was 98000 tonnes. “CMFRI’s recent success includes commercial production of seeds of green and brown mussels and cultch-less spat production of edible oysters with a high survival rate at Vizhinjam.
More than 6000 women self-help groups are engaging with bivalve farming under the guidance of the CMFRI”, he said. Dr Brien Roberts, Aquaculture Research Scientist from Australia and Arun Aloysius, Curatorial Supervisor of Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo also delivered lectures at the meet. Dr P Laxmilatha and Dr V V R Suresh also spoke on the occasion.