Seaweed Downstream for the Prosperity of Many Parties

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Seaweed is one of the main commodities of fisheries products which always gain a lot of foreign exchange when traded in the export market. Together with shrimp, seaweed always works hand in hand to be the best and make a major contribution to the national economy.

Apart from being traded in raw form, seaweed also has the potential to be utilized through processed products. In fact, seaweed also has many derivatives that can be developed by many interested parties.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said seaweed could be used for fertilizer, feed, and pharmaceuticals. It is believed that this growing potential will further catapult the name of seaweed, which is currently known as green jewelry.

Given the enormous potential, the Indonesian government is currently focusing on developing domestic seaweed downstream. One of them is by building pilot seaweed cultivation in five locations.

“There is a lot that can be developed there,” said Sakti Wahyu Trenggono in Jakarta last weekend.

The five pilot locations will carry out a strategy on how to increase seaweed productivity, while at the same time encouraging downstream operations to work within the country. In order to be the best example, aquaculture activities apply good aquaculture practices from upstream to downstream.

In addition to building pilot cultivation areas, another strategy to increase national seaweed aquaculture production is to revitalize seaweed cultivation villages and centers, as well as build a seaweed tissue culture laboratory.

Meanwhile, the five locations that have become pilot areas for seaweed cultivation are in Buleleng (Bali), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi), Southeast Maluku (Maluku), Rote Ndao (East Nusa Tenggara), and West Nusa Tenggara.

Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said the development of the five locations was a mandate for the development of seaweed set by the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo. The five locations are expected to be examples of how production can be increased while maintaining sustainability.

So far, he admits that seaweed development is still not running optimally in Indonesia. This is because, although there is potential for seaweed gardens covering an area of ​​12 million hectares throughout Indonesia, in reality only 0.8 percent of the potential has been developed.

From the seaweed farms that have been utilized, the total production that has been produced in 2021 is 9.09 million tonnes. Meanwhile, national production is dominated by Eucheuma cottonii, followed by Eucheuma SpinosumGracilaria sp, and Sargassum sp.

“The value of seaweed production in 2021 is IDR 28.52 trillion,” he explained.

It is known, the export value of seaweed from Indonesia in 2022 will reach USD 600 million or contribute up to 16 percent of the total value of the world seaweed market which reaches USD 3.7 billion.

Broadly speaking, the record recorded by Indonesia is positive because it has increased by up to 74 percent compared to 2021. Likewise, the record recorded by the world market has increased by up to 32 percent compared to 2021.

In addition to the great potential to become a source of foreign exchange in the export market, seaweed also has the same great potential for the energy transition process which is being a big focus being carried out by the Government of Indonesia right now.

The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan recently explained that the Government is making the energy transition one of its long-term strategic interests. This effort can be carried out through the utilization of seaweed.

It is believed that this effort will be part of Indonesia’s commitment to optimizing all marine potentials in encouraging the realization of a blue economy. Moreover, so far Indonesia has long depended on fossil energy.

According to him, one way to reduce this dependency is to optimize the potential of seaweed for the energy transition process. This method is believed to be able to reduce fossil energy gradually, and at the same time will encourage the production of clean and environmentally friendly alternative energy on a national scale.

“Including, supporting the plan to develop seaweed-based biofuel and crude oil,” he said.

With this potential, seaweed is part of the group of coastal and marine-based natural capital ( blue natural capital / BNC) which is currently operating in Indonesia. This commodity is included in the BNC because it is a labor-intensive sector and is able to improve the welfare of coastal communities.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan explained, referring to 2021 data, seaweed exports from Indonesia are still dominated by raw materials, up to 65 percent, and the rest is processed with added value.

On the other hand, even though downstream is the focus of improving national seaweed management and trade, the Indonesian government alone cannot carry out this process independently. More than that, support from many parties is needed so that industrialization from upstream to downstream can run.

This support will be able to increase the capacity of the seaweed processing industry directly because there is a role for the seaweed industry to increase added value and competitiveness. Then, the Government can focus on designing and identifying what steps and policies to encourage this acceleration.

Support from all parties is very important because Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that seaweed will play a big role in adaptation to climate change by absorbing carbon emissions, regenerating marine ecosystems, and as a material for biofuels and biodegradable plastics.

Assistant Deputy for Aquaculture Development at the Coordinating Ministry for Marine Affairs and Fisheries Rahmat Mulianda some time ago said that seaweed has now become the basis of the marine economy, from previously the mainland economy.

With these facts, he said without hesitation that seaweed is a piece of jewelry that must be maintained and the process of using it must be done wisely. If it is running, seaweed will become a source of livelihood and a source of foreign exchange for the country.

Meanwhile, the Director of Seeds at the Directorate General of Aquaculture at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Nono Hartanto, explained that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries had prepared a number of strategies to maximize seaweed production. Apart from upstream, the strategy is also applied downstream.

He revealed that the development of superior seaweed seeds by adopting a tissue culture system was one example of the strategy implemented by the KKP in the upstream area. This strategy is considered to be faster in developing these commodities and resistant to pest attacks.

Hydrocolloid itself is a polymeric component derived from vegetables, animals, microbes, or synthetic components which can dissolve in water, is capable of forming colloids, and can thicken or form a gel from a solution.

It is known, that Indonesia’s marine waters have been a habitat for the growth of 555 species out of around 8,000 species in the world. However, with this great potential, the use of seaweed for aquaculture activities is still not optimal.

Began to be developed in 1967, seaweed only developed well in the 1980s. Currently, aquaculture land covers 12.3 million hectares and only 102 thousand hectares or 0.8 percent has been utilized.

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