Pilot Project Report: An Analysis of the South Sulawesi Seaweed Industry

The Indonesian seaweed industry has expanded rapidly over the last 20 years and now supports the livelihoods of more than 35,000 coastal households in South Sulawesi (BPS 2020).


The Government of Indonesia has prioritised the industry’s development, recognising the vital role it plays in reducing poverty in coastal communities.

But it is not all good news. The industry suffers from poor coordination between farmers, traders and processors, limiting farmer incomes and creating quality issues for processors. And in common with most other industries, it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This pilot  project takes a four-stage approach to gain a better understanding of the industry.

Download the full Pilot Project Report, ‘An Analysis of the South Sulawesi Seaweed Industry’, here

Firstly, it reviews the global trends in the Indonesian seaweed industry. It outlines how growing global demand for hydrocolloids (often used as gelling agents in food processing) has driven the expansion of cultivation of a narrow range of seaweed species across the Indonesian  archipelago, enabled by the unique characteristics of coastal farming households.

Secondly, it outlines the value chain of the industry, exploring how the phyconomic characteristics of seaweed production shape its cultivation and the livelihoods it supports, and how these in turn interact with domestic marketing systems, the processing sector, and global value chains.

Thirdly, it takes a closer look at seaweed livelihoods, using a livelihoods analysis of the industry to identify the key needs of farmers.

Finally, it considers techniques for researching the industry during COVID-19 and shows how satellite data can provide insights into the industry and how it has changed during the global pandemic.

These four sections provide insights into the industry which support the development and implementation of the Commodities Research Group’s proposed Strategic Integrated Project (SIP) for 2021-2022.

Photo by Agung  Pananrang in Bone, South Sulawesi