Entrepreneurs: Seaweed Export Restrictions Can Destroy Farmers

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The discourse on limiting seaweed export commodities that has been echoed by the Government recently, has received strong rejection from entrepreneurs. The rejection, because the potential for seaweed is still very much, while its uptake is still low.

This was conveyed by the Chairman of the Indonesian Seaweed Association (ARLI) Safari Azis in Jakarta, yesterday. According to him, until now, the distribution of seaweed cultivation along the coast and those cultivated in pond areas is still very wide.

“So the production is still abundant. It’s a shame if there are restrictions, because national absorption is still low,” he said.

If the restrictions remain in place, Safari fears it will have a negative impact on farm-level seaweed prices. In fact, everyone knows that farmers are the spearhead of national seaweed development.

Not only will it disrupt the farmers’ economy, Safari assesses, limiting seaweed exports has the potential to reduce people’s interest in continuing to pursue the seaweed business as their main livelihood. Because, if the results are not much, surely farmers will switch to other professions.

As is known, the rejection from entrepreneurs appears, because currently the Government is reviewing the discourse on the imposition of export duties and a gradual export ban for seaweed commodities. This step was taken in the context of downstream seaweed.

With the enactment of this policy, the government hopes that entrepreneurs can be even more creative in processing seaweed and not exporting it in its raw form anymore.

Based on data from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), the Republic of Indonesia’s seaweed production in 2015 reached 10.33 million wet tons or when converted to 1.03 million dry tons.

Environmentally Friendly Cultivation

Meanwhile, with regard to the development of seaweed as a leading commodity, KKP is determined to develop it with an environmentally friendly and sustainable concept. In this way, it is hoped that seaweed cultivation will not only be superior in terms of quantity and quality, but also preserve nature.

The Director General of Cultivation Fisheries at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Slamet Seoabjakto, in Ambon, Maluku, said that currently the utilization of marine cultivation or mariculture land in Indonesia has only reached 2 percent of the total 11.8 million hectares. In fact, developing mariculture will have a positive impact on the country’s aquaculture sector.

Slamet said, currently marine aquaculture such as seaweed is the backbone of aquaculture production, because currently 70% of total aquaculture production comes from seaweed.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said that regarding the restriction on seaweed, her party hoped it could be implemented in stages over the next five years. Within this period, the export of raw seaweed ( raw material ) should be gradually reduced.

To achieve this target, since now the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has asked entrepreneurs and seaweed industry players to start reducing exports in raw form.

According to Susi, the aim of reducing raw seaweed exports is so that Indonesia can turn into a manufacturing country in the seaweed industry. Becoming a producing country also benefits many businesses in the national seaweed industry.

Susi said the potential for seaweed land owned by Indonesia at this time reached 12.1 million hectares. However, due to various reasons, only 2.68% or 352,825.12 hectares of land has been utilized.

With such an area of ​​land, Indonesia’s export volume in 2014 reached 206,452 tons with a value of USD 279,540,000. This data increased compared to 2013, where export volume reached 181,924 tons with a value of USD 209,701,000.

Nusa Lembongan Seaweed

Mount Agung looks elegant from Lembongan. This view is even more captivating with the activities of working seaweed farmers. There is harvesting, cleaning, bathing half body and there is paddling a canoe. Unfortunately, now is the past in Nusa Lembongan, Bali.

What remains are wooden canoes lying on the edge or in the middle of the shallow sea. Patches of traces of seaweed cultivation are still visible. Seaweed Tourism Object now leaves the sea without seaweed and its farmers.

I Nyoman Suwarbawa is a Lembongan resident who is known to be active in campaigning for seaweed cultivation again. He said that since January 2017, the signposts for the cultivation of around 100 farmer families have been removed.

The main reason is that there are fewer collectors willing to buy crops and there have been fish pests since 2016. The price for 50% dry harvest is also still low, around IDR 2500/kg. Farmers reduced drastically and the expanse of seaweed disappeared.

Since last February, he has been trying to revive several plots of land from 10 kg of seeds, using a seaweed bag cultivation system. The results were considered good and the demonstration plots supported by the government were continued in April. Unlike the island of Nusa Penida, cottoni seaweed is suitable for Lembongan.

Residents who have no work are encouraged to farm again but do not want to. Even though the production is not significant, he wants to revive the memory of the people when seaweed provides a living. Demonstration plots can be a place of learning and water tourism.

Pan Weriyani and Made Sinin, a husband and wife who used to farm seaweed, now only go to sea a few times to catch fish. But the fish are getting less. He stopped because prices fell and he was rarely picked up by Lembongan collectors selling to Nusa Penida. Around his house is now full of hotels and villas, the land for drying seaweed is also gone.

Bali is one of nine provinces producing seaweed in Indonesia. As much as 65% of the seaweed is cultivated on three other islands in the southeast of Bali, namely Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. All three are included in the Nusa Penida District, Klungkung Regency. Apart from being a source of income for residents, seaweed farming activities are also a panoramic icon of the coast of this small tourist-dense island.

Seaweed production center villages in Nusa Penida include Suana Village, Batununggul Village, Kutampi Kaler Village, Ped Village, and Toyapakeh Village. Meanwhile on Nusa Lembongan Island are Jungut Batu Village and Lembongan Village.

In such a short time, it is now difficult to find seaweed farmers. Very drastic change.

From these villages, Nusa Penida produces two types of seaweed for world consumption, namely cottoni and spinosum. With an average farmer’s land area of ​​10-15 acres, based on data from the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), the total seaweed yield in Nusa Penida is around 40-50 tons.

According to data from the Bali Industry and Trade Office, Bali’s total seaweed production in 2013 was 145,597 tons. The majority of the Nusa Penida sub-district includes Lembongan island.

A number of seaweed farmers mentioned several reasons. First, the loss of the next generation because they prefer to work in the tourism industry. Second, the weather is increasingly erratic, if the water is too warm or too cold, the seaweed will become brittle or rot. Next, the threat of household waste and the tourism industry. To make matters worse, price fluctuations and the slow pace of processing into more high-value products.

The late Made Kawijaya alias Pan Tarsin was a pioneer of seaweed cultivation in Lembongan. In 1986, this man who used to be a turtle hunter was awarded the Kalpataru environmental conservationist award.

For Wayan Tarzan, Pan Tarsin’s son was something very surprising. At that time, around the 80s, Pan Tarsin was a respected turtle hunter in his village. As well as hunting sea corals and giant clams ( giant clams ).

One day, an employee of the Klungkung Agriculture Service came and asked residents to cultivate seaweed. “He brought 5 kilograms of two types of seaweed seeds. Because turtle yields are decreasing, farmers are starting to learn seaweed farming,” said Tarzan, the second generation of seaweed farmers in Nusa Lembongan.

The first yields were extremely unprofitable. This continues until the second year. Seaweed farmers still do not receive cash because the harvest is bartered for food such as rice.

Until finally a big buyer from Ujung Pandang came and bought the residents’ crops for IDR 300/kilogram. Not only enthusiastic farmers, travelers also started coming to Nusa Lembongan. Now the price is around IDR 5000-8000/kg dry.

Marthen Welly, Coral Triangle Center (CTC), one of the initiators of the Nusa Penida KKP area, said that sea grass lagoons and coral reefs can block currents from hitting the mainland.

Its ability to prevent abrasion of small islands up to 30%. Then if there are seagrass beds it will prevent another 30%, and mangroves also 30%. If all three are present, about 90% impedes current. In addition to beautifying water areas, biodiversity clearly has an impact on the inhabitants.

The Nusa Penida MPA covers an area of ​​more than 20 thousand hectares. The core zone is set at 120 hectares, the sustainable fishery zone is almost 17 thousand hectares, and the seaweed cultivation zone is 464 hectares. There is also a marine tourism zone of around 1200 hectares, and others.

Seaweed production in Bali has decreased by up to 99% during 2017 due to the low selling price of this plant and the transition from the farming profession to tourism.

The total seaweed production in 2017 was 597.71 tonnes. Meanwhile in 2016 it was 100,856 tonnes. The Head of the Bali Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Service, I Made Gunaja, said that around 90% of Bali’s seaweed farms are located in Klungkung. While the rest spread in several areas such as in Badung and Buleleng.

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