Future of Farm
We asked each farmer about their ambitions to expand and the main reasons that limit their farm’s potential growth. Farmers were also asked to list the major production challenges they face on a daily basis, as well as their needs or wishes that could help improve farming activities. The answers paint a picture of the industry in real time and provide valuable insights into technology gaps and innovation opportunities.
Explore The Farmer by Species
Having access to markets, finance and technology is very important for the sustainable development of the tropical Eucheumatoid industry.
Challenges and Innovation Needs
Nearly every farmer we spoke to had ambitions to expand their farm. The primary factor that limited their expansion was lack of capital. Farmers usually prefer to borrow money from local collectors or relatives instead of having formal arrangements. These loans and payment systems make farmers dependent on the buyers.
After severe weather events like typhoons, it can be difficult for farmers to find the capital to rebuild farms and start operating again.
In some regions, accessing the space to farm is becoming an issue. We visited several seaweed farming hotspots where most families in the area were involved in the industry, but could not expand because most of the nearby farm sites were occupied. Going further off-shore or moving further away from the village along the coast brings an increase in production costs. It also increases the technology burden as farmers have to devise ways to place anchors at greater depths.
As a general rule, the more remote places are, the lower the sale prices will be. This is because usually one buyer will oversee logistics, which means they take a greater cut of the farm gate price.
Across all regions the lack of quality seed supply has been mentioned as another severe challenge to the farmers. It seems that this is especially severe in regions that have been farming for more than 10 years. Farmers reuse seedlings for several cycles, leading to a serious decrease in quality and thus, a significant reduction in productivity. An expert estimated that with improved seeds, the yield could easily increase by a factor of 20. The majority of farmers do not have access to improved seedlings.
Promising public and private breeding initiatives are currently underway to produce more disease resistant cultivars. Furthermore, tissue culture is emerging way to improve the productivity and availability of seedlings in the Coral Triangle region. However, using this technology to support farmers in nursery production and for producing seedlings at scale will require significant external capital support.