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Role of women in seaweed farming in Zanzibar (Tanzania)

Photo credit: Farida Mlaponi Mohamed (Tanzania) Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

Commercial seaweed farming started on Zanzibar (Unguja) Island in 1989 and expanded to Pemba Island and mainland Tanzania around 1994.  The seaweed strains of Kappaphycus were imported from the Philippines.

Tanzania Seaweed farming in Tanzania started commercially in 1989 and is mostly performed on the Zanzibar Islands (i.e. Unguja and Pemba) whereas the seaweed farming is currently the third largest industry that brings in foreign revenue (after tourism and the clove trade).

The available gender data revealed that 78% of seaweed farmers in Zanzibar are woman. The same trend occurs in the mainland Tanzania where about 90% of seaweed farmers are women.

It may be of interest to know that when the farming of seaweed started, almost equal numbers of men and women were engaged in different activities of seaweed farming. Afterwards, a gradual decrease in men engagement in the seaweed farming as the overall activities were believed to suit women more who showed enough patience and persistence with such new farming technology including seeding lines, tending lines, harvesting, drying, selling, etc.   Based on the success of women in seaweed farming, they are able to generate a stable income for themselves and their households. From social point of view, this work opportunity gave women elevated and more respected status in their households and communities.

Main reference: Flower E. Msuya & Anicia Q. Hurtado (2017) The role of women in seaweed aquaculture in the Western Indian Ocean and South-East Asia, European Journal of Phycology, 52:4, 482-494

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