Seaweed is being hailed as a miracle crop that absorbs more carbon dioxide than trees. For women in coastal villages in Tamil Nadu, cultivating seaweed has empowered them with a source of income.

India is the world’s third-largest carbon polluter, behind China and the U.S. Authorities are looking to seaweed farming to help reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, reverse ocean acidification, improve the marine environment, and provide a sustainable livelihood for coastal communities.

Marine scientist M. Ganesan says that seaweed provides a possible way forward as coastal habitats and wetlands absorb five times more carbon than terrestrial forests. “It is a miracle crop in many ways, it is eco-friendly, it doesn’t use land or fresh water. It absorbs carbon dioxide dissolved in water during photosynthesis and oxygenates the entire marine ecosystem.” Seaweed absorbs an estimated 173 million metric tons of carbon annually.

When seaweed dies and drops to the seafloor, its carbon is locked up in the sediment. As a result, seaweed cultivation has been identified as a carbon sink that could help alleviate climate change.

Lakshmi Murgesan is part of a team of women who cultivate seaweed on bamboo rafts; one raft yields upto 200 kilos in 45 days, of which 50 kg is used to cultivate the next raft. She makes Rs 20,000 each month farming seaweed, and says, “I would not have been able to educate my children but after doing this, I could send to college.” my children

The product is sold in markets nationwide as well as the U.S. and Australia through AquAgri, a private company. India, which has an 8,000 km coastline, aims to boost production from the current 30,000 tons to more than 1 million tons each year by 2025.

Picture Credit : Google

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