Unlocking the potential of the South Sulawesi seaweed industry

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The seaweed industry is big in South Sulawesi, but its potential is much bigger.


An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Indonesia and Australia are setting out to help the province unlock this potential, to drive prosperity and development.

Read the latest updates from the PAIR Pilot Projects [September 2020]

Despite Indonesia being the largest producer of carrageenan seaweed in the world, and South Sulawesi the largest in the country, the industry remains under-utilised and under-developed.

In this new project under the AIC’s Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) researchers will seek to understand the current state of the seaweed industry in South Sulawesi, to inform later projects that will focus on upgrading it.

All research will be undertaken remotely, with no travel required.



Agriculture plays a central role in South Sulawesi’s economy, and seaweed is a key component of this, supporting the livelihoods of up to 40,000 small-scale farmers and large numbers of traders and exporters. Indonesia and South Sulawesi hold an international competitive advantage in seaweed production, which is used in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Yet, stakeholders in the seaweed industry believe there are opportunities to add value and improve current practices. For example, around 90 per cent of Indonesian seaweed is exported as a raw material, whereas processing before exporting could increase its value.

Meanwhile, modernising cultivation methods, upgrading harvesting technology and improving institutional arrangements could increase the livelihoods of farmers. Improvements to technology and policies could also reduce the environmental impact of the industry.

In this project, researchers will seek to understand the current state of the seaweed industry in South Sulawesi by conducting analyses on:

  • The drivers and trends in the seaweed industry, nationally and within the province
  • The value chain of the South Sulawesi seaweed industry
  • The livelihoods of seaweed cultivating communities in South Sulawesi.


The research team

PAIR domain: Commodities

Senior Fellows: Prof. Nunung Nuryartono (IPB), Dr Scott Waldron (UQ)

Associate Fellows: Dr Muhammad Farid Dimjati Lusno (UNAIR), Dr Sulfahri (UNHAS), Dr Alexandra Langford (UQ), Dr Kustiariyah Tarman (IPB), Dr Syamsul H. Pasaribu (ITB),  Dr Ulfah J. Siregar (ITB)

This is the third of four PAIR Pilot Projects. Previously we announced projects from the domains ‘Young people skills and development’ and ‘Young people, health and wellbeing’.


Australian Media enquiries

Marlene Millott
PAIR Program Officer
+61 427 516 851

Indonesian Media enquiries

Fadhilah Trya Wulandari
PAIR Program Officer
+62 8124 3637 755


About PAIR

PAIR is the flagship program for the AIC’s new research model, supported by the Australian Government, the Indonesian Government, the South Sulawesi Provincial Government and the AIC’s eleven university partners.

Focused on South Sulawesi, PAIR explores the western coastal region of the province where a new 145-kilometre railway line is being built, connecting two major cities and three regencies: Makassar, Maros, Pangkajene, Barru and Parepare.  It will explore four key areas: seaweed as a major commodity; transport, logistics and supply chain; young people health and wellbeing; and young people skills and development.

Visit the PAIR website for more information.


About The Australia-Indonesia Centre

Through its In Conversation webinars, the Australia-Indonesia Centre has dissected the impacts of COVID-19 from perspectives including public health, economics, governance, international trade and international education. PAIR research will add to these efforts as we continue to seek ways to work together towards recovery and continued development.

The AIC is a consortium of 11 leading research universities in both countries. Its mission is to advance people-to-people links in science, technology, education, innovation and culture.

Visit the AIC website for more information.

Photo by Agung Pananrang in Bone, South Sulawesi.