Jakarta, Jan 17 (ANTARA) - Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad has the ambition not only to turn Indonesia into a top global fish supplier but also the world`s biggest seaweed producer.
Indonesia is striving to produce 10 million tons of seaweed per by 2015, making it the number one producing country, replacing the Philippines.
"We are trying to increase seaweed production on a mass scale to enable Indonesia to become the biggest seaweed producer in the world," Minister Fadel Muhammad said when speaking in the Third Seaweed International Business Forum and Exhibition (Seabfex) in Surabaya, East Java, July 2010.
Fadel was optimistic that in the next two years the target might partly be achieved especially in view of the vast seaweed cultivating grounds in Indonesia`s eastern parts, like East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, Maluku, and North Maluku.
Indonesia, a maritime country having the world`s second longest coastal line, has very big potential in the production of seaweed, which is relatively easy to cultivate as it takes only 45 days to fully grow.
Seaweed is in very high demand in the international markets, especially as a raw material for the production of food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Seaweed is also good fertilizer and is currently under consideration as a potential source of bioethanol.
In line with the planned seaweed production increase, the minister would also want to see many more seaweed processing factories to be built in the country in the next two years in order to boost exports of processed seaweed products. Currently, Indonesia has around 23 seaweed producing companies.
For that purpose, Minister Fadel has urged banking circles to provide smallholder credits for seaweed farmers.
"Without the credits, I think it would be rather difficult to develop seaweed," he said.
Regarding Indonesia`s plan to mainly process seaweed at home, Prof Dr Jana Anggardiredja, the Technology Assessment and Application Agency (BPPT)`s deputy for natural resource development technology, last March said a lot of researches were needed to raise the target of seaweed processed products from 20 kinds to 50.
Prof Jana, concurrently Chairman of the Indonesian Sea Weed Society, said almost all of the Gracilaria sp seaweed production has been absorbed at home because there has already been a gelatin plant, which is the world`s biggest, in the country.
"In the future we must process it more or, if possible, totally at home," he said.
He pointed out that China whose sea did not produce seaweeds had many seaweed processing industries and therefore needed a lot of seaweed as the raw materials from Indonesia.
The world`s demand for carrgeenin in 2006 reached 40,000 metric tons a year worth US$335 million, while alginate 12,000 metric tons a year worth US$94 million and gelatine 10,000 metric tons a year worth US$181 million.
By 2014 he hoped absorption of domestically processed carrageenin would increase to 15 percent or around 4,000 tons while exports to reach around 22,000 tons.
He also hoped absorption of domestically processed gelatine would be 85 percent or around 4,250 tons and exports around 750 tons.
In 2009 Indonesia`s seaweed production reached 2,574,000 tons, which increased sharply from the 2005 level of only 910,636 tons.
"Seaweed to the total production of marine and fisheries accounted for 8.9 pct, while we set a target of 27 pct by 2015," Minister Fadel said last February in the Seabfex III opening which was participated in by representatives from 14 countries, such as the Philippines, South Korea, China, Malaysia, France, India, Germany, Canada, Chile, Japan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands.
Indonesia`s total seaweed exports reached 102,415.93 tons, worth 124.36 million US dollars, with destinations including Asia, Europe, America, Australia, and Africa.
With regard to carrageenin product, Indonesia had controlled around 13 percent of the world`s market in 2007 and 13.7 percent in 2008, 14 percent in 2009 and predictably 15 percent in 2010, according to Martani Huseini, the marine affairs and fisheries ministry`s director general of fishery product processing and marketing in Gorontalo, Sulawesi, last April.
Petrus Rani Pong, a researcher from the Mamuju fishery and brackish water cultivation research center in South Sulawesi Province, one of the country`s biggest seaweed producers, said in June 2010 that with the support of innovative technology, Indonesia would be able to achieve the 10 million tons target by 2014, from 2.6 million tons in 2010.
Besides, the government has facilitated the expansion of seaweed cultivation areas from 2.1 million hectares into 2.6 million hectares in 2010, he said.
He believed that seaweed cultivation involving thousands of farmers throughout the nation could help improve the people`s welfare since the overseas demands for seaweed were very high.
Of seven seaweed species being cultivated in Indonesia, the majority is Kappaphycus species, which is considered good quality. (Xinhua)
Indonesia`s Island of Bali will host the 21st International Seaweed Symposium (ISS) in 2013. The decision was taken in the 20th ISS which was organized in Mexico in February 2010, according to Chairman of the Indonesian Seaweed Producers` Association (ALRI) Safari Azis Husain.
Azis Husain, who had attended the Mexico meeting, said the appointment of Indonesia to host the important meeting, reflected that Indonesia has been considered of having huge potential in the seaweed cultivation.
Based on the data resulted from a mapping carried out by a Filipino researcher, Dr. Anicia Q. Hurtado, there were 11 spots of the world`s seaweed production centers for E. Cottonii seaweed existing along the Equator, particularly in the Coral Triangle area covering ten ASEAN member nations, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Pacific islands.
Of the 11 spots, six are in eastern Indonesia, spread from the straits of Makassar, North Sulawesi-Central Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Maluku to Papua, according to Azis Husain.
The data showed that the eastern Indonesia area (KTI) in the future is very strategic and detrimental in meeting the global increasing seaweed consumption, he said.
Indonesia is the world`s biggest dried seaweed exporter with its annual exports reaching 145,000 tons, or about 50 percent of the tropical world`s total exports of 290,000 tons.
The total dried seaweed exports of tropical countries which is 290,000 tons accounted for 25 percent of the world`s total seaweed exports of 1.2 million tons.
"Beside Indonesia, other tropical countries which export dried seaweed include the Philippines, which contributes 35 percent of the total tropical countries` exports of dried seaweed," chairman of Indonesia`s Seaweed Commission, Farid Ma`aruoef, said last April in Padang, West Sumatra.
On a national scale, Indonesia`s wet seaweed production reaches 1,94 million tons, and only 15 percent of it is processed at home. (ANTARA)