Sustainable upgrading of the South Sulawesi seaweed industry

As one of the recognised commodities that sustains tens of thousands of households along the Indonesian coastline, the government is seeking informed solutions to expand and modernise the seaweed industry.


The seaweed industry in Indonesia is currently dominated by carrageenan mainly for global export as a dried unprocessed material, while buyer countries can process it to achieve a higher market value. There is a huge opportunity to improve this situation by developing an integrated seaweed industry, starting with addressing the critical key elements.

This study consists of several subprojects to gain a comprehensive understanding of seaweed and farmers livelihoods, seaweed cultivation, marketing and developments in the global seaweed industry with findings and policy recommendations for each element.

Here are some of the interesting findings.

  • Technology adoption is typically driven by word of mouth.
  • The low participation of young people may be due to a lack of interest or access to planting space.
  • National production estimates by local governments may be overstated.
  • There are layers of traders undertake packing and redrying the seaweed.
  • Farmers do not receive higher prices for better quality seaweed.
  • Financial services provided by traders can impose control over farmers’ supply
  • Indonesia dominates global carrageenan seaweed production and exports, but Chinese companies have grown to dominate the global carrageenan processing industry, including investment in Indonesian carrageenan processing.

Click here to read the full report, ‘Sustainable upgrading of the South Sulawesi seaweed industry’


There are at least 66,000 generally low income coastal households and communities in Indonesia that depend on the seaweed industry for their livelihoods according to the Central Agency of Statistics in 2013. Therefore, the sustainable development of the industry will definitely contribute to national growth.

Feature image by PAIR.