Solving the Current Sargassum Seaweed Problem (2 July 2015)
The Sargassum seaweed is a problem for the tourism industry. However, it could be a God-sent solution for the national economy.
We seem to devalue the quality of our products. Our Sea Island cotton, sugar cane and molasses are superior products, perhaps partly due to our geographical location and geology. Sargassum accumulates pollutants in the sea. However, being the most easterly Caribbean island, our seaweed may have a higher value than that in Asia.
The chemical characterises of Sargassum have been studied and the test results are available on-line. The Government Analytical Laboratory should test some of the local Sargassum and compare it with the Asian product.
The Analytical Laboratory should then prepare a sampling and preparation method that can be used by home-based businesses. An example follows.
- Collect the Sargassum seaweed from the beach or sea in clean plastic bags.
- Spread it on a clean surface exposed to sunlight.
- Collect it when it is dry and brittle.
- Wear a mask and pound the dried Sargassum into powder using a mortar and pestle.
- Sieve the powder into plastic bags with a ‘ziploc’ type seal.
The Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) should be given the opportunity to justify its continued taxpayer funding by finding several international markets for the processed powder, and several diverse uses for it. The BADMC should then negotiate the best prices for the Barbadian product.
Every Barbadian family should then start a home-based family business and start converting the abundant God-sent Sargassum seaweed into powder, with no waste products, and no utility energy requirements. All children in the family should participate.
Every person who has lost hope of participating in the Barbados economy, including the unemployed, incarcerated and homeless, can convert Sargassum into powder. Every person tempted into crime, including illegal drug dealers, can make this premium product.
Now that we are in the political trench, I hope that this opportunity is not wasted. The beaches can be cleaned without the SSA investing in the new expensive equipment, and Barbadians can pursue their fortune.