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Improving seaweed yield quality and transforming rural communities in Indonesia

25 March 2024 UNIDO

GQSP Indonesia Story

Ibu Amsu, an Indonesian seaweed farmer in Sumenep district of East Java Province, proves that it's never too late to change and innovate. Despite being eighty years old, Amsu is a pioneer in her community's seaweed farming sector, having started working in this industry during the 1990s. 

Amsu embraced new techniques for cultivating seaweed, motivated by her goal to ensure that her grandchildren receive a proper education — a testament to her belief in the power of adaptability and innovation. 

Seaweed farming is more than just an occupation for the rural communities on Madura Island — it is an integral part of life. Farmers dry their harvested seaweed and sell it to traders, who then send it to exporters or to local seaweed processors to be processed and used for food thickening, stabilizers and in the cosmetics industry. It is one of the major export products in Indonesia, supporting the livelihoods of rural Indonesian communities, especially women and indigenous people. However, the persistent issue of low-quality yields has been a significant barrier, preventing many farmers like Amsu from reaching financial stability and threatening a practice that has been sustained for generations.

GQSP Indo 3

That’s why UNIDO has implemented its Global Quality and Standards Programme (GQSP). GQSP Indonesia (2019-2023) is in cooperation with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fishery (MMAF) and the National Standardization Agency (BSN) and funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Working in tandem with local institutions, UNIDO introduced the farmers to innovative practices of sustainable and effective seaweed cultivation. Farmers were guided on how to improve their yields through better spacing of seedlings, use of good quality seeds, adopting a 45-day farming cycle, and using drying racks or nets instead of the ground.  

Moreover, around 50 women, mainly family members of seaweed farmers from the local district attended training sessions on the processing and marketing of food and drink seaweed-based products such as snacks, crackers, cookies, syrup and sweets, resulting in eight seaweed-based products being commercially produced in Sumenep.

As a result of UNIDO’s training, around 400 seaweed farmers who implemented the new techniques witnessed an average production increase of 28.8%, amounting to 249 metric tons of dried seaweed per harvest. This enhancement has translated into significant economic gains, with annual sales reaching €1.53 million.

GQSP Indo 2
GQSP Indo 1

This story reflects how the use of innovative solutions for ensuring a better quality of seaweed, coupled with tradition and community spirit, improved the life of the entire community, also including Amsu: “Now I can send my grandkids to school, even to the university, from growing better seaweed,” she says. 

Project name: Global Quality and Standards Programme (GQSP) Indonesia