Promoting seaweed farming as a sustainable enterprise in Belize, Colombia and Cuba

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The UN Development Programme's Small Grants Programme (SGP) supported the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Limited (PPCSL) in Belize, specifically to implement a seaweed cultivation project. The project was a local success with replication and upscaling occurring nationally and regionally. In 2015, for example, PPCSL hosted six fishermen from Colombia who were interested in visiting the farms in Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve in Belize to learn about seaweed cultivation. In 2017, PPCSL hosted a delegation from Cuba, where seaweed farming is also being replicated as a sustainable nature-based solution.

No Poverty , Gender Equality , Decent Work and Economic Growth , Climate Action , Life below Water , Partnerships for the Goals

It is estimated that about 75-80% of all coastal land in Belize has been purchased for the development of tourism and residential areas, posing a serious threat to mangroves, wetlands, and other coastal ecosystems. This rapid and uncontrolled development has resulted in increased habitat loss in Belize’s coastal zone and, consequently, in declining fish stocks, with ramifications for the local population that rely on the fisheries for their livelihoods.

In 2009, the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Limited (PPCSL), received a COMPACT grant through UNDP GEF's SGP to start a seaweed cultivation pilot project. In particular, support was given for developing the project and the establishment of 20 seaweed farms with the necessary equipment for planting, monitoring, harvesting and processing the seaweed crop for local and international commercialization. The project was a success, and PPCSL is now working with a private investor, Coral Caye Limited, to develop methodologies for seaweed cultivation and additional revenue streams. 

In 2015, Colombian fishermen went to Belize to learn about seaweed cultivation, harvesting, and processing at the PPCSL farms located in the Gladden Spit, Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, and Laughing Bird Caye National Park sites near Placencia Village. Through presentations, farmers were taught about the history of PPCSL and the seaweed cultivation project, as well as the current status of the global seaweed aquaculture. In Little Water Caye, the Colombian fishers were introduced to the seaweed cultivating and harvesting methodologies of PPCSL.  

As a result of the exchange between Colombia and Belize, the Colombian fishermen are replicating the techniques they have learned, now also through the pilot project “Algae Cultivation Pilot Project and Development of Products Based on its Derivatives” with Coralina, Utadeo and Fish and Farm C-Enterprise. Colombian fishermen have also generated new products, such as a highly nutritious drink called Seaweed Punch, diversifying and increasing their sources of income.  

During the exchange visit to Belize, two women and four men from the Old Providence and Santa Catalina Fishing and Farming Cooperative in Providencia Island, Colombia, learned how to design and set up a seaweed farm, select an appropriate site, construct anchors, and select the best seeds for high crop yields.  

In 2017, SGP Belize hosted a south-south exchange with SGP Cuba, which is now supporting the replication of a seaweed farming in Cuba in partnership with local fishing communities.

 

Belize , Colombia , Cuba

Coral Caye Limited – Private investor , Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Limited , Colombian Government , Coralina, Utadeo and Fish and Farm C-Enterprise , UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programmee , UN Foundation , Belize Fisheries Department

Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Limited , UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programmee

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