The price of seaweed flour has increased by 100 percent in Zanzibar since the crop started to be used in the making of foods, soaps and oil in 2008.
This was revealed by University of Dar es Salaam marine science expert Dr Flower Ezekiel Msuya at the launch of a programme aimed at empowering seaweed entrepreneurs at Bwawani in the Isles recently.
Dr Msuya said the price of seaweed flour has risen from 5,000/- to 10,000/- per kg due to the increased demand in the food, soap and oil markets.
She said since seaweed flour started being used in the making of cakes, juice, vegetables, chutney, jam and skin oil, the price has been going up.
As a result, seaweed companies in Zanzibar have been purchasing dry seaweed at 400/- per kg, and make a good cut of up to 10,000/- from every kg of seaweed flour.
However, she said, seaweed farmers have been experiencing a drawback in that they do not have machines for milling and drying the crop, a thing that is pulling back their feet.
Dr Msuya mentioned the villages that produce seaweed as Paje, Jambiani, Kisakasaka, Bweleo, Kidoti, Muugoni, Nyamanzi, Bwejuu and in Pemba Island.
Among the farmers, she said, only those of Kidoti have been able to secure a seaweed milling machine, whereby they have begun soap and edible oil production.
She said if more seaweed milling machines would be availed to the lot of growing farmers, more of them could increase their incomes by exporting flour instead of dried seaweed.
She said soaps made of seaweed are capable of fighting skin diseases like fungus, rushes and muscle contraction.
At least 3000 farmers currently benefit from the crop by making foods, soaps and oil, she said.
Dr Msuya said if the farmers would get enough seaweed milling and drying machines, they would have their incomes increased and contribute more revenue to the government.