Commercial seaweed farming started in most geographies 50 years ago and is still a very labour intensive sector. It provides multiple jobs along entire coastlines. In most regions seaweed farming is still a family activity where women play a substantial role. In other cases, corporate structures have developed around the industry.
Explore The Farmer by Species
Although the physical work in Pyropia production has become much easier thanks to mechanisation, it still requires many hands – especially when seeding and deploying nets during grow out and harvest.
South Korean Pyropia companies typically employ foreign seasonal workers who come from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or East Timor and earn a good income during the winter.
In Japan, Pyropia farming families are organised in small family cooperatives where certain tasks are carried out as a group. Husbands go to sea while wives carry out many of the land-based tasks. The local co-operative collects 3% of the annual yield from each nori grower as payment for the use of the farming plots.
In China, specifically in Jiangsu province companies are the farming entities and part of a farming association. In Zheijiang and Fujian province the farm sizes are smaller and often family run. There is no farmers association here.
With an ageing rural population in South Korea, Japan and China, there is less and less local labour that is willing to work in this industry.