Innovision Consulting is working with the Department of Fisheries (DoF), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Government of Bangladesh to spearhead a groundbreaking grant project on the development of the seaweed value chain through appropriate aquaculture and commercial application of agar for facilitating Blue Economy growth in Bangladesh. This initiative operates under the World Bank-funded Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project (SCMFP), which aims to amplify the economic contribution of coastal and marine fisheries by implementing strategic management and sectoral reforms that empower local communities.
Worth over USD 5 billion annually, the global seaweed market is experiencing steady growth and presenting substantial opportunities. A distinctive aspect of seaweed farming is its minimal feed, fertilizers, and technology requirements, setting it apart from other aquaculture practices. Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has increasingly recognized the potential of seaweed farming to foster socio-economic development. However, using valuable seaweed-derived hydrocolloids such as agars, alginates, and carrageenans for commercial gain has remained largely untapped. The core objective of Innovision’s project is to fortify seaweed aquaculture practices, enhance post-harvest technologies, and harness the potential of agar extracted from red seaweed (Gracilaria spp.). This endeavor expects to create value-added products, effectively contributing to economic growth in the region.
In collaboration with Bangladesh Agricultural University and the University of Chittagong, the Innovision team has engaged with 40 seaweed farmers within the Cox’s Bazar district, a hotspot for seaweed production in Bangladesh. The Innovision team has conducted comprehensive training sessions, equipping farmers with skills in seaweed production, harvesting, and processing, supervised by a Principal Investigator (PI) of this research project, Faiz Md. Taimur, a Faculty Member of the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Chittagong. Innovision has also established vital infrastructures, including shed houses and drying platforms, in both the Nuniarchhara area of Cox’s Bazar and Mymensingh. Another prominent figure in this research venture, Dr. Md. Abdul Hannan, a distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Bangladesh Agricultural University, is leading the charge in developing an optimized method for food-grade agar extraction.
This innovation will be disseminated for widespread industrial application, marking a pivotal step towards promoting domestic production to replace imported agar-agar in the country. Furthermore, the project team is actively working to foster stronger trade relations and business connections within the seaweed value chain, facilitating enhanced market access for small-scale producers.