FAO sets sights on increasing local seamoss production

Sub-regional Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr. Renata Clark, has said it is an immediate goal to increase the production base for a consistent supply of local seamoss products.

During the week of May 15-20, 2023, the FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) carried out site assessments, production trainings, and a stakeholder validation workshop aimed at supporting the development of Dominica’s seamoss industry.

On Friday, May 19, the week culminated with a stakeholder validation workshop with representatives from relevant government agencies, seamoss farmer cooperatives, agro-processors, retailers, exporters, and other stakeholders at the Roseau Fisheries Complex to discuss and validate upgrading strategies for the development of Dominica’s seamoss industry.

 “Dominica does have an existing processing base, particularly for bottled seamoss beverages and with this in mind the immediate goal is to be increasing the production base for a consistent supply of locally produced and high-quality seamoss product,” she said at the workshop.

She noted that it’s important to also consider the broader global aspect of this market in terms of the long-term planning and strategizing for the sector adding that imported food additives are derived from seamoss which has wide application in food and beverage manufacturing in pharmaceuticals and in other consumer goods.  Additionally, she pointed out the growing international demand for these additives.

“There is work that remains to be done to clearly understand how we can best position Caribbean-produced seamoss in this evolving global market particularly as there are many countries across the world who are producing efficiently and competitively in very large volumes,” she said.

“In Dominica, seamoss has traditionally been gathered in the wild, and cultivated seamoss through farming operations is relatively new [and] since this project began the ministry has introduced [a] commercial variety that has been successfully cultivated in other parts of the Caribbean and in fact in other parts of the world.”

Clark revealed that earlier this week, the farmer cooperatives have been participating in production training to further build their knowledge base and skills. Site suitability assessments were also conducted to evaluate the current production sites, and consider potential locations for possible expansion.

“Seamoss production is unique compared with other [products] that require longer production cycles at higher investment costs,” she stated, “the purpose of this stakeholder validation workshop is to jointly present the value chain assessment and the upgrading strategy along with the whole value chain team and to gather your feedback and inputs on the recommendations and the strategic areas that have been identified for developing the seamoss sector in Dominica”

Clark added that the development of the Dominican seamoss value chain can provide economically viable opportunities for rural and coastal communities, increasing food security and reducing Dominica’s food import bill.

During that week, there were visits to several sites where seamoss is currently (or has the potential to be) grown and harvested, as well as meetings with local commercial agro-processors. This was followed by on-site trainings and demonstrations in methods and techniques to improve productivity, and increase seamoss yields among three (3) farmer cooperatives in Calibishie, Woodford Hill, and Grand Bay.

Safety equipment and tools for farming seamoss were also handed over to the Fisheries Division for distribution among the groups.

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