Agar and Alginate Production from Seaweed in India-BOBP/WP/69

WORKING PAPERS - BOBP/WP/69

Agar and Alginate Production from Seaweed in India


by
J. J. W. Coppen
Gum specialist
P. Nambiar
Economist


Executing Agency: Natural Resources Institute (NRI), U.K.

Funding Agency: Overseas Development Administration (ODA) of the United Kingdom

Bay of Bengal Programme Madras, India, 1991

Table of Contents


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© FAO 2004

PREFACE

Although small by world standards, Indian production of agar and alginates— natural gums derived from certain species of seaweed — contributes to the national economy by supplying materials to the market that would otherwise need to be imported. It is also important in providing income opportunities to many fishing communities, particularly the women, who harvest the seaweed from coastal waters.

This paper surveys the Indian seaweed industry and its principal products, agar and sodium alginate. Technical and economic aspects of seaweed collection and processing, and the markets for the products, are examined. Trials undertaken by BOBP to cultivate Gracilaria seaweed and to employ it as a source of raw material for villagescale agar production are briefly described.

The work presented is based on information collected during visits made in 1988 and 1989 to harvesting centres along the south-eastern coastline of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The seaweed industries are not well documented and the report relies heavily on first-hand information gained through visits and discussions with the seaweed collectors, agents and processors.

The authors would like to thank all these people for their kind assistance during the implementation of this study as well as the Post-Harvest Fisheries Adviser and local consultants involved in the collection of data and the organization of this visit.

The work described in this paper has been sponsored by BOBP’s Post-Harvest Fisheries Project. It is executed by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), UK, and funded by the ODA (Overseas Development Administration) of the United Kingdom.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


WORKING PAPERS - BOBP/WP/69pdf

1. INTRODUCTION
2. PRODUCTION AND TRADE IN SEAWEED AND SEAWEED GUMS

2.1 World
2.2 India

3. SEAWEED COLLECTION IN INDIA

3.1 Location
3.2 Species of seaweed utilized
3.3 Seasonality of collection
3.4 Methods employed
3.5 The role of the seaweed agent
3.6 Financial returns
3.7 Raw material supplies

4. PRODUCTION OF AGAR IN INDIA

4.1 Uses and types of agar produced
4.2 Quality criteria
4.3 Location of the industry
4.4 Scales of operation
4.5 Processing methods employed

— General principles
— Cleaning of seaweed
— Chemical pre-treatment
— Extraction
— Filtration and gelation of extract
— Bleaching and dewatering of the gel

4.6 Marketing and prices
4.7 Constraints faced by the industry

5. PRODUCTION OF ALGINATES IN INDIA

5.1 Types of alginates produced and their uses
5.2 Quality criteria
5.3 Location of the industry
5.4 Scales of operation
5.5 Processing methods employed

— General principles
— Preparation of seaweed for extraction
— Extraction
— The direct precipitation of alginic acid and conversion to sodium alginate
— Production of alginic acid via calcium alginate

5.6 Marketing and prices
5.7 Constraints faced by the industry

6. SEAWEED CULTURE AND THE PROSPECTS FOR ITS COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA

6.1 Agarophytes
6.2 Alginophytes

7. VILLAGE-SCALE PRODUCTION OF AGAR

TABLES

1. Prices for seaweed paid by agent to collector
2. Prices for seaweed paid by processor to agent
3. Total seaweed landings
4. Prices for agar obtained by producer

FIGURES

1. Production and marketing areas for seaweed, agar and alginates
2. Total seaweed landings
3. General processing scheme for production of agar
4. General processing scheme for production of sodium alginate

APPENDICES

1. List of agar producers in India
2. List of alginate producers in India

PUBLICATIONS OF THE BAY OF BENGAL PROGRAMME