A renaissance in Bali’s seaweed farming sector is being broadly touted as a sustainable various to tourism, following the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, however the actuality is way more difficult.
The financial panorama in Bali, Indonesia, has modified dramatically since March final 12 months when Covid-19 and related lockdowns disrupted vacationer arrivals. In 2018, 80 % of Bali’s economic system was primarily based on tourism, as arrivals had been steadily growing annually since 2011. Whereas 2019 noticed 6.28 million vacationers visiting the island, the pandemic resulted in just one.05 million arrivals in 2020, leaving many beforehand employed within the tourism sector out of labor.
In latest weeks, worldwide information shops have offered the return of some Balinese to seaweed farming as a possible turning level for the island’s workforce – a possibility to dilute an overreliance on overseas tourism and, within the course of, alleviate among the unfavourable environmental externalities that tourism growth has contributed. Media shops have touted the “rediscovery” of seaweed farming, with one describing it as “The Nice Reboot”, and the Australian ABC Community’s International Correspondent dedicating an episode to the financial pivot, claiming “an previous lifestyle has returned”.
However whereas folks in Indonesia have collected seaweeds and ocean flora for hundreds of years, seaweed farming, as it’s practiced at present, was solely launched to Bali within the early Eighties, and has been closely concentrated within the island’s southern waters. Consultants say that, whereas it’s inaccurate to current seaweed farming as a standard lifestyle to be preserved, because it was launched the apply has led to constructive financial outcomes. Regardless of these advantages, seaweed cultivation’s sustainability and suitability as a viable long-term livelihood various for a lot of Balinese is impacted by entry limitations, provide chain obstacles, and evolving socio-environmental dynamics.
Bali’s tourism trajectory
That an overreliance on tourism has characterised Bali’s economic system for some a long time is neither a contested truth, nor an accident. Indonesia’s 2011 Masterplan for Acceleration and Growth of Indonesian Financial Improvement set out an in depth trajectory for the nation’s growth aspirations by the 12 months 2025: the Bali-Nusa Tenggara Financial Hall, which Bali falls inside, was to focus developmentally on tourism and meals manufacturing to advertise financial development.
Whereas the financial success of tourism in Bali is paradoxically depending on the environmental integrity of the island, the acceleration of what has been described because the “dizzying tempo of tourism growth, land alienation, and ecological degradation” has disproportionately positioned the unfavourable environmental externalities of a largely foreign-owned tourism trade on the Balinese folks. A 2015 examine discovered that, whereas these employed in tourism made up 25 % of the workforce, 85 % of the trade is non-Balinese owned. The trade accounts for 65 % of Bali’s water consumption, and environmental prices have been significantly pronounced for the encircling oceans, rivers and waterways, which have been affected by massive quantities of plastic waste, growth runoff and marine site visitors.
The ebbs and flows of seaweed farming in Bali
Since its introduction within the early Eighties, most seaweed farming in Bali has occurred within the Nusa Dua area and throughout the Badung strait – the 12 km lengthy slim sea strip that separates the mainland from the southern islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, which fall inside Bali’s Klungkung regency and the place circumstances are uniquely suited to farming sure seaweed species.
As marine biologist and director of PT Sea Six Indonesia Iain Neish tells The Fish Web site, “[These areas] are uncommon – they’re shallow reef flats enclosed with a seashore on one aspect and a barrier reef on the opposite, and these are good locations to develop seaweed. There’s nice water turnover due to water sloshing over the reef and seaweed grows naturally, so it’s like they had been designed for seaweed farming.”
Farming right here is predominantly of carrageenophytes – a pink number of seaweed from which hydrocolloids are extracted to provide carrageenan, a product used as a thickening agent for meals in dairy merchandise reminiscent of ice cream, condensed milk, processed cheeses, jellies, child meals and pet meals. It is usually used as a binding agent for toothpaste, as a thickener for shampoos and different beauty merchandise, and air fresheners. Industrial merchandise utilising carrageenan embrace abrasives, pigments, prescription drugs, textiles and agricultural agent options.
There are numerous scientific and commerce names used to explain carrageenophytes, which lately have been reclassified. These embrace the genuses Kappaphycus and Eucheuma, which for business functions are known as cottonii and spinosum respectively. The calm waters between the islands of Lembongan and Ceningan host a very best house for cultivation of the extra economically viable cottonii species, whereas spinosum is grown extra generally on the northern coast of Nusa Penida.
Cultivation is carried out utilizing conventional strategies, both involving the usage of rope traces that connect to stakes manufactured from bamboo or wooden, drawn out in sq. 10 m x 10 m sq. plots on the water’s floor, on the sea-bed, or on semi-submerged rafts. The seaweeds attain a super weight for harvesting by hand after 30 to 32 days, after which they’re sun-dried till a super moisture content material is reached. At this stage it’s usually offered to middlemen, often called “collectors” for transportation to home or worldwide places to be processed. They buy the seaweed primarily based on a value set by the federal government.
Middlemen usually reside in villages close to seaweed farmers and could be representatives of carrageenan producers, impartial establishments, or cooperatives fashioned by seaweed farmers. They promote the uncooked dried seaweed onto massive merchants after massive portions are collected from farmers. Impartial farmers promote uncooked dried seaweed (RDS) to their alternative of native dealer to promote onwards, and these merchants resolve the market value. Dependent farmers promote their seaweed to particular native merchants or cooperatives, and in these preparations the farmers and merchants have settled on casual agreements concerning value, which can contain the dealer offering monetary help to the farmer.
Entry limitations stopping mass cultivation
The portion of the inhabitants that has entry to seaweed farming instead technique of employment in Bali is comparatively low. 90 % of Bali’s seaweed farming areas are positioned in Klungkung, Bali’s smallest regency, within the island’s south. When entry is out there, there are strict regulatory measures that restrict the scale and placement of seaweed farms.
Requested about problems with entry, Neish says: “There are ancestral tenure privileges which have been carved up and allotted for a very long time, so when farming resumed [due to the pandemic] it mainly went again to the individuals who had been farming beforehand, who’re principally members of kelompok tani (farmer teams)”.
“The jurisdiction over farming falls to the village – there are extreme restrictions on the place you possibly can plant and how one can plant it. Within the case of Bali, they decreased the scale of plots to about one are (100 sq. metres). 5 years in the past, a seaweed farmer may make good cash – ten million rupiah (roughly USD $684) monthly or extra, however then the pie bought reduce up. Each farm was so small that it wasn’t actually sufficient to make the earnings the household wanted,” he provides.
Beginning up a farm requires appreciable funding and a number of folks – often a household unit – to keep up a small space, and returns on investments are gradual and unreliable.
Wayan Merta Danta’s household have been seaweed farmers for the reason that Nineties, however Wayan sought employment in tourism in 2010, when Nusa Lembongan began gaining reputation as a vacation spot. Now, because of the pandemic, he’s returned to farming together with his household.
“If you happen to work in seaweed, you want many individuals, like a household. It’s not attainable by your self as a result of it’s onerous work,” Wayan explains.
“You want some huge cash to begin rising seaweed. Once you begin, for no less than 4 months you’ll not get a reimbursement, if it’s good seaweed. If it’s not good seaweed, it would take longer.”
Requested about whether or not seaweed farming provided comparable earnings to his earlier earnings from cafe work, Wayan says that “it’s not the identical, as a result of seaweed is troublesome. Like rice, typically seaweed is sweet and typically not good. If it’s not good, you don’t have cash. If the seaweed is sweet, you will get cash, however not a lot”.
David Sales space, founding father of the East Bali Poverty Venture, echoes the sentiment that seaweed farming instead earnings is severely restricted by each geographic entry to farming areas and a scarcity of presidency assist for enterprise coaching that will result in ample returns.
“Seaweed farming is an choice, sure, however not everybody has entry to it. It’s been taking place in Nusa Penida for years, and with authorities assist they may very well be flourishing industries, supporting folks to develop the talents to ascertain their very own companies from manufacturing to licensing to processing to advertising and marketing and packaging,” he explains.
Provide chain and enterprise growth challenges
With a younger inhabitants who’re motivated by the modernisation that tourism has dropped at the south of the island, encouraging younger folks to get entangled in farming presents one other problem.
David Sales space additionally emphasises that younger Balinese, particularly, would profit from the diversification of the economic system and encouragement of entrepreneurship typically.
“The federal government wants to assist by creating alternatives to ascertain small companies and supporting present small companies. There should be the coaching amenities in enterprise possession, so folks don’t should journey 400 km, they usually have the know-how, the coaching, and capability constructing to benefit from what they’ve in their very own space,” Sales space says.
Final 12 months the native authorities introduced a want to extend seaweed farming in Lembongan by way of a programme that will make use of 100 farmers and designate 0.8 hectares of farming space per farmer to develop seaweed. On 29 March, Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia, Cameron MacKay, visited Nusa Penida to supervise the cooperation programme established by the Canadian and Indonesian governments to extend seaweed exports from Nusa Penida.
Because the export route at current is comparatively lengthy, the market value for seaweed obtained by the native farmers is insufficient to function a viable various to beforehand earned salaries in tourism. The availability chains contain solar drying, storage, packaging, and distribution, and for farmers this additionally consists of choices in regards to the best occasions for cultivation and harvesting, transporting and labour. Provide chain administration is required to enhance effectivity and product high quality from suppliers to prospects and to attain elevated profitability, added worth, effectivity and a aggressive benefit within the sector.
Whereas Indonesia is the biggest international producer of uncooked dried seaweed, and the gross sales worth of carrageenan is the world’s highest in comparison with different hydrocolloids, Indonesia misses out on seeing returns from the worth added to the seaweed post-processing, as most Indonesian seaweeds are exported of their uncooked, dried kind. A 2016 examine confirmed that in Indonesia a rise in export quantity led to a lower in seaweed market value.
A examine printed in 2019, analysing carrageenan provide chains in Indonesia, discovered that international demand for and new product growth of carrageenan is about to extend. However, because of the nation’s sparse, archipelagic geography, manufacturing carrageenan domestically wouldn’t essentially shorten the availability chain or scale back the price of transportation.
Susceptibility to socio-environmental fluctuations
Seaweed farming itself shouldn’t be resistant to fluctuations in viability introduced on by exterior components. Along with the growing availability of profitable work in hospitality or tourism-related development, seaweed’s local weather sensitivity and susceptibility to cost fluctuations is what drove many Balinese away from the sector.
Between 2013 and 2017, seaweed farms had been badly affected by a bacterial infestation brought on by elevated water temperatures and adjustments in salinity introduced on by local weather change, resulting in considerably decreased yields and low promoting costs. In consequence, from 2016 to 2017, seaweed manufacturing decreased by 99 %, from 100,856 tonnes to only 597 tonnes, and elevated once more barely to 1,684 tonnes in 2018.
Consultants say the seaweed farming trade in Bali may very well be made extra resilient by growth into the cultivation of different, extra climate-resistant species of seaweed. Conventional cultivation depends on the monoculture system, however co-cultivation has been discovered to assist elevated development. Analysis performed from December 2019 to January 2020 in Pandawa on Bali’s east coast confirmed that the burden of cultivated seaweed was highest in co-cultured environments.
Assessing viability and alternatives for growth
The present disaster shouldn’t be the primary latest context during which seaweed in Bali has been mentioned. Earlier farmers of seaweed thought-about returning to the apply in 2017, when Bali’s volcanic Mount Agung erupted constantly over a interval of a number of months disrupting vacationer arrivals. It has been explored as a way of addressing the island’s dire plastic air pollution downside by way of the manufacturing of bioplastics, for its carbon sequestration, water purification, and coastal safety properties, and instead livelihood to fishing amidst dwindling fish shares. However whereas seaweed farming definitely holds advantages and alternatives, it falls wanting promising a viable, long-term various earnings for almost all of Balinese who lack entry to farming websites and a dominant place inside the provide chain.
Whereas farming will not be a long-term livelihood transition, it’s presently serving as a vital stop-gap for a lot of positioned in seaweed producing areas. Although geographical limitations are comparatively inflexible, the present trade may very well be made extra economically viable, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable by way of assist that ensures market worth for present farmers, and the encouragement of enterprise possession that will guarantee constructive environmental outcomes are accompanied by proportionate financial returns that keep in Bali.