Seaweed farming for food and nutritional security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and women empowerment: a review

Seaweed is a promising marine macroalgae of the millennium, providing various ecological, social, and economic benefits. At present, seaweed production reached 35.8 million t from farming, accounting for 97% of global seaweed output, with a world market of US$ 11.8 billion. Seaweeds are an excellent source of nutritious human food because of their low lipid content, high minerals, fibers, polyunsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, vitamins, and bioactive compounds. Many seaweed sub-products offer unique properties to develop various functional foods for the food processing industries. In the perspective of climate change mitigation, seaweed farms absorb carbon, serve as a CO2 sink and reduce agricultural emissions by providing raw materials for biofuel production and livestock feed. Seaweed farming system also helps in climate change adaptation by absorbing wave energy, safeguarding shorelines, raising the pH of the surrounding water, and oxygenating the waters to minimize the impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia on a localized scale. Moreover, it contributes substantially to the sustainable development of the economic condition of coastal women by providing livelihood opportunities and ensuring financial solvency. This review paper highlights the significance of seaweed farming in global food and nutritional security, mitigation and adaptation to global climate change, and women empowerment within a single frame. This review paper also outlined the major issues and challenges of seaweed farming for obtaining maximum benefits in these aspects. The main challenges of making seaweed as a staple diet to millions of people include producing suitable species of seaweeds, making seaweed products accessible, affordable, nutritionally balanced, and attractive to the consumers. Various food products must be developed from seaweeds that may be considered equivalent to the foods consumed by humans today. Lack of effective marine spatial planning to avoid user conflicts is vital for expanding the seaweed farming systems to provide aquatic foods and contribute globally for mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts. Hence, women’s empowerment through seaweed farming is primarily constrained by the lack of technical knowledge and financial resources to establish the coastal farming system. All the information discussed in this paper will help to understand the critical needs for large-scale seaweed farming for climate resilience mariculture, potentials for global food security, and future research on various aspects of seaweed farming and their diverse utilization.

Sultana F., Wahab M. A., Nahiduzzaman M., Mohiuddin M., Iqbal M. Z., Shakil A., Mamun A.-A., Khan M. S. R., Wong L. & Asaduzzaman M., in press. Seaweed farming for food and nutritional security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and women empowerment: a review. Aquaculture and Fisheries. Article.

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