Solar drying boosts Zanzibar’s seaweed industry

A locally developed and produced Solar Seaweed Dryer is about to change the lives of anybody involved in the time-consuming and labour-intensive seaweed industry on Zanzibar. The innovation is using locally available material that can easily be obtained by local farmers at low cost.

Seaweed, reports, is mainly used in food, in cosmetics by the pharmaceutical industry, and in textile manufacturing. Global demand for high-quality seaweed is rising. Employing over 25,000 people, 90% of whom are women, seaweed farming is the second source of foreign income after tourism in the islands of Zanzibar.

The Zanzibar seaweed industry is extremely inefficient, due to difficult drying circumstances during the rain season. To increase efficiency and reduce the number of hours needed for production, the international development organization VSO joined forces with Tanzanian government organisations and a renowned marine biologist and seaweed expert in Zanzibar. The efforts focused on enable farmers to dry seaweed during rainy season.

The innovation they came up with – a seaweed flatbed dryer – helps farmers to dry seaweed in the rainy season, increasing productivity by as much as 30%.

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