Sabah’s seaweed industry has big potential

SEMPORNA: Sabah’s seaweed industry, especially in Semporna, can be greatly expanded through the development of high-impact downstream products, says Sulabayan assemblyman Datuk Jaujan Sambakong.

The development of downstream products can be carried out with the support of the government, including in research and development (R&D), to value add to seaweed-based products.

He said he was proud that his constituency was one of the areas with the largest production of seaweed in Sabah and is sought after by overseas markets, especially China.

Jaujan said the national seaweed production was around 225,084 tonnes with a value of RM100mil last year, with 54% of them coming from Sabah.

“I have also been to China and shared my views on seaweed and I found our seaweed there, where they have many factories and use it to produce various downstream products to reap even more profit.

“It’s important to carry out R&D so that we know what we can produce from this seaweed, whether to obtain soap, lotions, food, and with that gain more business opportunities, jobs that can help boost the income of the local communities,” he told Bernama recently.

Jaujan expressed hope that the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry can do more to expand the seaweed industry in Semporna and ensure productivity in the sector is increased.

He said he would also reach out to the minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu about the unbalanced price of seaweed that hinders operators from gaining a stable profit and continuing to produce seaweed effectively.

He added that the seaweed industry in his constituency has the potential to be developed into an agrotourism area that offers homestay experiences.

A seaweed cultivator in Sibangkat, Salleh Abdul Salleh, said he hoped that the government would allow them to conduct agrotourism activities in cultivation areas so that tourists can have a different experience living with the “seaweed community”.

He said agrotourism activities could help diversify their incomes, as some operators in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park had previously suffered losses after their seaweed was eaten by sea turtles.

“Some cultivators took matters into their own hands and installed drift nets at their own expense, while my solution is to use cages so that turtles cannot gain access.

“This is my pioneer project but the cost is steep, so we do need assistance from the government,” he said.

Salleh also suggested that a special body concerning seaweed be set up to ensure the industry is more productive and the welfare of cultivators is protected.

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