Fishing is the mainstay of livelihood for coastal communities, however due to over exploitation it is increasingly becoming unviable especially for small fishers. Seaweed cultivation provides a viable and sustainable alternative livelihood opportunity for small fishers. Fishing also has gender bias as it offers limited opportunity to the women-folk. Seaweed farming helps for the first time in bringing women into the mainstream of economic activity and empowers them to better the lifestyle and well-being of the whole family. According to the former Collector of Ramanathapuram only a part of the income of the fisherman actually becomes available to the family as a very large proportion is spent outside the home. On the other hand income earned by the women is spent on the family or becomes part of small savings hence the multiplier effect of this income on the social development is much higher. Today close to thousand families are earning their livelihood through seaweed cultivation. A large number of primary workers are women.
Role of AquAgri
AquAgri Processing Private Limited (APPL) provides necessary training, extends technical know-how and guarantees buy-back for the entire produce of the farmers at a pre-agreed price. APPL has also introduced new saving scheme (APPL-GIP-Growers’ Investment Program) and incentive scheme to improve their life status. The company is making all the efforts to help improve the status of the coastal communities by creating entrepreneurs and providing continuous technical support and supervision by its extended field team.
Role of Aquaculture Foundation of India
The seaweed farming in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu is vigorously being promoted by the Aquaculture Foundation of India (AFI) under the leadership of Dr. M. Sakthivel (President). Aquaculture foundation creates awareness and with support from AquAgri and government departments imparts training to the interested participants.
Seaweed farming is being promoted by organisations such as FAO, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group and is a subject matter of study of many researchers such as Brian Crawford of Coastal Resources Centre, University of Rhode Island. Aquaculture foundation creates awareness and with support from AquAgri and government departments imparts training to the interested participants; further it supports them in getting the subsidy support from the government departments such as DRDA, Department of Fisheries etc. and financing from various financial institutions and banks. In another development Aquaculture foundation of India is tying up with Colleges and universities to scale up this activity. AFI along with MS University will identify the SHG women beneficiaries and coordinate the entire project; MS University would arrange training programs through AquAgri.