Ambassador MacArthur visiting a seaweed farm in Lamalaka Village
Canada's new Ambassador to Indonesia, Peter MacArthur, visited seaweed producers in Bantaeng Regency, South Sulawesi Province in late November. The Canadian Co-operative Association is collaborating with the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland and a local Indonesian organization, LP3M (Lembaga Pengkajian Pedesaan, Pantai dan Masyarakat), to strengthen the position of small aquaculture producers of seaweed, milkfish and shrimp in four regencies of South Sulawesi. The four-year, $2.7 million project is called INVEST Co-op Indonesia.
Small producers account for over 90% of the seaweed, milkfish and shrimp farmed along Indonesia's coastline. Many farmers in South Sulawesi are struggling to meet the demands and quality standards of a growing seaweed market owing to challenges accessing capital and quality production input, and low levels of financial literacy.
Ambassador MacArthur met with men and women small producers who shared their experiences and hopes for economic success through their co-operatives. They explained there are many species of seaweed and described the washing, tidying and drying steps involved in post harvesting.
Ms. Syamsiah, a farmer from Bonto Lebang, says she hopes the project will build the capacity of seaweed farmers in her area to be more competitive. Mr. Hamzah, a young farmer from Lamalaka, says farmers need to improve the quality of the seed they use. "By having better quality, we can increase the price we are paid for our seaweed."
"Ambassador MacArthur's visit and attention to the project is most appreciated," says CCA Executive Director Michael Casey. "There are opportunities here to link small scaleproducers to domestic and international markets through co-operatives and other private sector suppliers and processors. We will work collaboratively with our partners and local researchers to develop quality seeds and introduce climate-smart farming methods that will improve the quality and quantity of their production. More importantly, we are helping farmers to sustain improved farming practices and add value to their crops through co-operative enterprises they own and manage themselves."
The Ambassador's visit coincided with a training event to explain the project to local farmers and leaders. He commented favourably on the equal participation of women and men at the training event. Before leaving, the Ambassador thanked producers and community leaders for sharing about seaweed production and the project, and wished his hosts every success.
INVEST Co-op Indonesia is part of a four-country program designed to improve the livelihoods of small producers by increasing their production, productivity and access to markets and financial services through integrated production, financing, and marketing co-operatives. The INVEST Co-op Program will benefit an estimated 69,800 women and men directly, and 269,000 indirectly in Indonesia, Malawi, Mongolia and Peru. It is being implemented by the Canadian Co-operative Association and local co-operatives and stakeholders in each of the four countries and is made possible with funding from Global Affairs Canada and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF).