Upgradation of socio-economic profile of women folk of Indian Sundarbans through seaweed culture

The project has been generated to train the women folk of the Sunderbans area on the importance of sea weed culture as an alternative livelihood. Sea weed is a favourable protein supplement to the under-nourished women folk of the area. Seaweed culture in the present geographical locale is not practiced; neither the technology is known to the local people. The dominant seaweed species present in the wild condition are on jetties, blocks, mangrove stumps and pneumatophores.

Project Area: Tridibnagar village in Basanti Block covering 1312 ha in Eastern part of Indian Sundarbans, 24 Parganas (S), West Bengal.

Community Background: The vulnerable coastal rural communities of the project area in Indian Sunderbans are very poor. Majority are below the poverty line and a significant population belongs to SC/ST community. Their life is very hard as they have to always fight with nature for their sustenance. The men folk are engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and capture fishery.However salinization of soil or severe viral attacks often damage these sectors. There exists severe gender inequality in the Indian Sundarbans. The women have to contribute to the family in terms of finance, caring little for their comfort, health and personal life and they are engaged in prawn seed collection from the rivers. This often causes life risks as they are prone to skin diseases , shark bites and crocodile attacks. This also keeps them away from their houses for a long time which enhances the household problems and usually they suffer from malnutrition, mortality during child birth (18%) , skin problems and anaemia.

Funded By: Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India
Project Duration: 2010 (1 year)

Optimization of sustainable harvesting practices of sea weeds from natural resources.

Identification of sustainable cultivation locations and standardization of culture and cultivation practices of Gracilariaverrucosa.

Development of culture farm of the sea weed, G. verrucosa in 1 acre land for demonstration purpose.

Standardization for post harvesting technology for drying, packaging and storage in specific location.

Development of methodology for preparation of poultry and cattle feed, liquid fertilizers and other nutritional value added feed from G. verrucosa.

Arrangement for buy back of the products.

Preparation of training and awareness generation materials at grass root level.

Local clubs and elected Panchayat representatives and rural communities were always engaed during the activities. Agrahani Sangha Club pond was established as the demonstration pond for cultivation of sea weed.

Women were empowered and capacitated to make decisions through Village level meetings where 60 percent of the participants were women. Members from SHGs and women belonging to minority communities were given preference as beneficiaries.

A data bank was established through monitoring of aquatic parameters (water temperature, salinity, pH, DO and transparency)

A campaign was run involving rural hoseholds on sea weed, its benefit & use, cultivation, harvesting, processing and marketing. Demonstrative trainings were given on seaweed culture by monoline/rope culture method and raft culture method (fixed net type) in the demonstration pond and also in the shrimp ponds (co-cultivation).

Linkages have been established with the rural communities and nearby institutions for technical support. Connections with marketing organisations were also initiated through a marketing survey.

Technology package development new-innovations/observations: An innovative method of sea weed culture using local materials was developed using ropes, bamboo and nets for sea weed culture in some of the ponds where the people are already cultivating prawns, crabs and other fishes. The method evolved as a result of active participation of the rural beneficiaries.