Innovative community-based solutions for the sargassum problem in Saint Lucia

Sargassum on a beach in the Caribbean. Image: Mark Yokoyama

From the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a story about an innovative approach to dealing with the sargassum blooms in Saint Lucia:

On the east coast of Saint Lucia, a local youth by the name of Johanan Dujon noticed how the piles of seaweed were causing trouble for the local fishermen by damaging their equipment and boat engines, as well as complicating their daily lives by making landing difficult upon return from fishing trips. The budding entrepreneur recognized an opportunity to capitalize on this freely available resource to create valuable organic agricultural inputs, which could in turn reduce and eventually replace the environmentally harmful synthetic chemicals used to grow food in St. Lucia. In 2014, Dujon founded Algas Organics and began experimentation with formulations to make this idea a reality.

Dujon successfully formulated the Algas Total Plant Tonic after several rounds of experimentation in 2015. This all-natural, seaweed-based bio-stimulant optimizes plants’ nutrient uptake through strong root development. Algas Organics, the Caribbean’s first indigenous biotech manufacturing company, made its debut with the Total Plant Tonic on the St. Lucian market in August 2015, and was warmly received by the gardening and farming community of the island.

With demand for the product on the rise, Dujon recognized the positive impact this could have on the livelihoods of fishermen as an alternative source of income. Dujon approached the Saint Lucia Fisher Folk Cooperative Society, Ltd. to partner with him in order to scale up the initiative, and to provide the fishermen with some relief from the vexing seaweed. The partnership received technical and financial support from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and the Government of Saint Lucia.

Algas Organics and the Saint Lucia Fisher Folk Cooperative Society Ltd have removed over 298 tonnes of wet seaweed from the beaches in eastern Saint Lucia since the start of the partnership in 2015. This has provided a livelihood for 6 local community members, who have been trained in harvesting and drying techniques, as well as fertilizer processing, packaging, and quality control. The product has since become well known in Saint Lucia’s agriculture sector and was recently introduced to Barbados.

Read more at the GEF website.  Previously on Green Antilles: Saint Lucian Johanan Dujon turns sargassum seaweed into organic fertilizer.


[Image: Mark Yokoyama]
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