On September 13th, 2023, the ICCF Group, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), facilitated a field mission for members of the Tanzania Friends of Environment (TAPAFE) to the Muungoni area in the Unguja Islands.

Seaweed farming stands as Tanzania's third-largest export industry, providing employment for over 25,000 farmers, with 80% being women.

Within the Zanzibar Archipelago, seaweed has emerged as the third-largest source of income, contributing to nearly 90% of marine exports. Primarily, the seaweed harvested is dried and utilized in products such as carrageenan or agar for thickening agents in toothpaste, ice cream, cosmetics, and more.

However, the appeal of seaweed farming has waned over the years, no longer holding the same appeal for local communities as it once did.

On September 13th, 2023, the ICCF Group, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), facilitated a field mission for members of the Tanzania Friends of Environment (TAPAFE) to the Muungoni area in the Unguja Islands. This mission followed a workshop held by ICCF and TNC in November 2022, which focused on strengthening the Blue Economy of the Western Indian Ocean by integrating ecosystem services and effective biodiversity conservation. The workshop delved into the concept of the Blue Economy and underscored the significance of a comprehensive Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) framework.

The primary objective of the field visit was to enable legislators to identify opportunities that could shape and bolster seaweed farming through legislative actions, as seaweed farming has become a pivotal component within the MSP framework.

The field mission was attended by Hon. Esther N. Matiko, Co-Chair of TAPAFE, Hon. Fredy Atupele Mwakibete, Secretary of TAPAFE, and other TAPAFE members, including Hon. Abdalghafar Idrissa Juma, Hon. Amina Daudi Hassan, Hon. Asha Abdallah Juma, Hon. Asya Mwadini Mohammed, and Hon. Hawa Mchafu Chakoma.

To commence the mission, Dr. Aboud Jumbe, Permanent Secretary of Blue Economy & Fisheries in Zanzibar, hosted the Members and delivered an informative presentation on Zanzibar's experiences and the untapped potential of the Blue Economy.

This encompassed various sectors like tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, maritime activities, trade and infrastructure, and ocean governance. Dr. Aboud emphasized the Ministry's commitment to implementing interventions aimed at empowering and investing in fisheries and aquaculture. He noted the global seaweed market's enormous potential, as well as challenges faced by seaweed farmers. He concluded by mentioning the Ministry of Blue Economy & Fisheries’ plans to establish a processing plant in Zanzibar by next year.

The Members proceeded to the Muungoni area, where local farmers provided insights into seaweed farming processes and the challenges they encounter on a daily basis.

Later, the Members visited a group of local women specializing in producing seaweed-based products, such as oils and soap. Hon. Esther Matiko encouraged these women to seek capacity-building initiatives to enhance their product marketing and competitiveness in broader markets.

In conclusion, the Members expressed their commitment to establishing a clear legal foundation for MSP and increasing their focus on allocating funds or incentives for research and development efforts aimed at refining seaweed farming techniques and enhancing productivity in future budgets.

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