Seaweed Farming in Zanzibar

June 20, 2014 Updated: June 24, 2014

On the beautiful shores of Paje, a seaside village on the southeast coast of Zanzibar, women crouch in the seawater for hours on end cultivating seaweed. Tying strands on to pieces of rope strung across the low tide fields, their work stops when the tides come in, and continues again when the tide goes out.

Visitors touring The Seaweed Center can immerse themselves in the local culture by experiencing the daily lives of these seaweed farming women. Explore the Centers facilities which include the seaweed farm, a processing site, factory and educational center and learn about the soap-making process. Shop at discounted prices, enjoy fresh seaweed juices, but importantly, meet the women farmers who will pamper you with a traditional Zanzibari welcome. It’s well worth the trip!

Seaweed was first introduced in Tanzania in 1973. The first variety, E. spinosum, soon ran into trouble due to low world prices and the delicacy of seaweed. It was discovered that even fresh rainfall water destroys it, as it needs a particular salinity to thrive. Two new, more resilient varieties of seaweed were then introduced achieving higher market prices. Today it’s estimated that Zanzibar produces 5,000 metric tonnes of seaweed a year; each strand handpicked, and in all probability, by a woman’s hand.

At The Seaweed Center, the lives of more than 40 Zanzibari women seaweed farmers are being transformed through an innovative community-owned business which empowers them to take control of their lives. Providing local women the opportunity to earn a living through harvesting seaweed, the Center diversified operations in 2012 when besides exporting, it started processing the seaweed and producing a range of beauty and spa products that are 100% organic. By overcoming ongoing challenges, profits are invested in future development and expansion to include more local women. It’s a center where there’s equal distribution of profits for all, with those at the ‘hard end’ having a say in decision-making, pricing and distribution.

The Seaweed Center Product Range includes a variety of soaps, creams, body scrubs and many others:

  • Beeswax soap and body butter available in 6 different essential oils and mixed with the finest coconut oil
  • ​Seaweed Center body butter
  • Pure virgin coconut massage oil combined with a fresh blend of pure Zanzibari essential oils
  • Special seaweed body scrub
  • Aloe Vera body butter and body scrub contains Aloe which is grown in Seaweed Center garden.
  • ​Seaweed centre Super Juice can be purchased at Stone Town Cafe, Zanzibar

Copyright © 2014 by My Destination. This article was written by The Seaweed Center and originally published at My Destination Tanzania