Tour Zanzibar Island

Seaweed Farming

Seaweed farms are generally located in shallow, calm and constantly warm waters, but only where the bottom is sandy. Perfect spots are north of Pwani Mchangani, from Bwejuu to Jambiani, at Michamvi, but mostly at Uroa. Considering that tourism and seaweed farming do not go very well together, the Government had assigned specific areas, sometimes reaching a compromise. The weed was introduced in Zanzibar from the Philippines in 1988. Today, seaweed farming is a small local industry that gives work to hundreds of islanders.

Every morning, with the first low tide of the day, women and children go to work at sea. First, an area of about 20 by 15 feet is staked, then raw ropes are tightened linking the sticks opposite and forming a kind of suspended structure, which has to remain under water even at very low tide.


Harvesting seaweed in the water

Seaweed drying in the sun


The new seaweed cuttings are then attached to the strings. This seaweed grows quickly and can be harvested after only two weeks, when it reaches an approximate length of 10 inches. A small cutting is left on the string and the rest carried to the village, where it is left to dry out.

Almost everywhere, spread on large mats, on tarmac, or, more professionally, hanged on long wood structures which are lined on the beach. The dried weeds are sold on the spot at US$ 4 per bag, the quantity that can be collected daily by a single person during working hours (this kind of activity is obviously restricted to the timing of low tides).

The product is shipped by container to northern Europe, where it is processed further and is finally used in medicines, cosmetics and in the preservation of foods and beers.