Upgrading the South Sulawesi seaweed industry

How seaweed farming could play a key role in the sustainable development of South Sulawesi.


Environmentally and socially sustainable farming of seaweed is the focus of work by a team of Indonesian and Australian researchers.

The research team is examining how to grow the industry in South Sulawesi, benefiting farmers while avoiding causing harm in other areas.

South Sulawesi produces more than a third of Indonesia’s seaweed supply, and 11% of global supply, meaning it is a crucial industry for the region, the country, and global markets. More than 35,000 households in the province rely on seaweed farming for their livelihood.

The Indonesian Government has identified the seaweed industry as a priority, recognising its potential role in poverty reduction.

A new project from the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) has brought together an interdisciplinary team of researchers to improve practices, efficiency, policies and production in the South Sulawesi seaweed sector. The project will have six key focus areas:

  • Sustainable Phyconomy
  • Cultivation and Livelihoods
  • Domestic Marketing
  • Processing
  • Global Value Chains
  • Policies and Institutions.

Researchers’ activities will include surveys with seaweed farmers, discussions on programs and policies with policy makers, analysis of the impact of plastics used in seaweed cultivation, exploration of technologies to develop new seaweed products, and a study of global seaweed markets.

“These six sub-projects are designed to explore, and improve, the biophysical, social and economic aspects of seaweed farming at multiple scales,” said AIC Senior Fellow Prof Nunung Nuryartono.

“We are focused around seaweed in SulSel, using case study locations that generate insights into the development of the wider Indonesian seaweed industry.”

The project builds on findings from previous PAIR research conducted on the seaweed industry in South Sulawesi. The research found the industry faces issues regarding high cost in logistics and transport, limited understanding of the needs of farmers, traders, and processors, and a lack of effective policies to solve these issues.

This project will provide insight, identify issues and problems, and explore solutions and innovations to support the decision making of the South Sulawesi Government, the Indonesian Government and industry associations.

The research team

Research group: 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)

Photo by Benjamin L. Jones on Unsplash

Picture of Lachlan Brooks

PAIR Intern
The Australia-Indonesia Centre