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Women with traditional hats working at village
Phan Thiet, Vietnam – Mar 19, 2016. Women with traditional hats working at fishing village in Phan Thiet, Vietnam.

Securing the Livelihoods of Seaweed Farmers through Innovation and Financial Inclusion

Securing the Livelihoods of Seaweed Farmers through Innovation and Financial Inclusion

Project Lead: MARI Indonesia
Financial Support: Received mentoring and capacity building support from ORRAA’s Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, which was financially supported by the Government of Canada.

Summary 

Through its Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, ORRAA is supporting MARI Oceans in Indonesia in its work to enhance the prospects of seaweed farmers and the long-term resilience of their communities – helping them to take more control of the seaweed production value chain through technology, finance, and governance.

Challenge 

Seaweed is increasingly recognised as a multifaceted nature-based solution, with growing research pointing to its many benefits in terms of carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and as a nature-positive alternative to agriculture. The range of ecological and economic benefits offered by seaweed is likely to make its cultivation one of the fastest growing sectors in the sustainable blue economy.

Solution

To help fulfil the potential of cultivated seaweed for farmers and their families, MARI is initially working with farmers in South Sulawesi to upgrade the production chain through finance and innovation, enhancing their prospects using technology, enabling access to finance and insurance, and improving governance. South Sulawesi is home to more than 60% of Indonesia’s seaweed farmers, and MARI’s aim is to empower them – and ultimately other communities around the world –

to draw on the full economic and environmental benefits of seaweed to build their long-term resilience.

MARI’s approach is designed to put every stage of the cycle into the hands of the farmers. Their solutions include ensuring the seedlings purchased are climate resilient and high-yielding, to deploying sensors that monitor key variables in order to select the best growing sites. To rebalance the relationship with buyers, MARI is also supporting the development of a blockchain-based digital platform that provides real time aggregate data on transactions, operations, and sales to harvesting teams.

As an Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge winner, MARI has been challenged by ORRAA to refine its business model and value proposition to both investors and stakeholders. During this process, MARI also honed its financial model, expanded its connections in the seaweed and conservation sectors, and built critical skills for building its business model through the ORRAA Leadership Academy.

Scalability and Next Steps

The project is on track to establish its first hatchery in early 2022. Its goal is to produce 64,000 tonnes of seaweed a year by 2023, generating revenues in excess of US$10 million and stabilising income and access to finance for more than 1,000 people.

“The contract model run by MARI Indonesia is transparent, fair, and in our favour, allowing us to develope even better. In addition, aquaculture assistance triggers us to gain knowledge and increase crop yields and participate in protecting the natural environment.”

Pak Alwi

Farmer on the transition to contract farming and MARI’s support through collectivisation