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Is a cooperative approach to seaweed farming effectual? An analysis of the Seaweed Cluster Project (SCP), Malaysia

Lookup NU author(s): Adibi MD Nor, Professor Tim Gray, Dr Gary Caldwell, Professor Selina Stead



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Seaweed (Kappaphycus spp.) farming has been practised in Malaysia since the late 1970s following government policy incentives (training and farming inputs). However, numerous governance, economic, environmental, technological and sociocultural challenges have prevented the industry from achieving its full potential. The Seaweed Cluster Project (SCP) was introduced in 2012 to address some of these challenges. We sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the SCP in delivering its central objectives of increasing seaweed production, optimising the farming area, improving seaweed quality and farming efficiency, raising farmers’ income, and reducing the environmental impact of seaweed farming. Community and industry perceptions of the SCP were obtained from seven communities using a mixed-methods approach based on face-to-face semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, household surveys, observation and secondary data. Views on the SCP outcomes were generally negative, including low take-up rates by indigenous people, poor stakeholder participation in decision-making, limited acceptance of new technologies, economic vulnerability, a complex marketing system, and low social cohesion of seaweed farming communities. Positive perceptions included recognition that the SCP confers high social status upon a community, reduces operating costs, and facilitates the production of certified seaweed. The SCP’s problems are linked to poor multi-level governance, weak market mechanisms and unintegrated community development. The study concludes with five recommendations to improve the SCP; promote the participation of indigenous people; legalise existing migrant farmers; strengthen local seaweed cooperative organisations; provide entrepreneurship skills to farmers; and fully integrated stakeholders into decision-making.Aquaculture · Seaweed farming · Governance · Community · Policy · Malaysia

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nor AM, Gray TS, Caldwell GS, Stead SM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Applied Phycology

Year: 2016

Volume: 29

Issue: 5

Pages: 2323–2337

Print publication date: 01/10/2017

Online publication date: 10/12/2016

Acceptance date: 21/11/2016

Date deposited: 12/12/2016

ISSN (print): 0921-8971

ISSN (electronic): 1573-5176

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10811-016-1025-y

Notes: From International Seaweed Symposium 2016, June 19-24, Copenhagen, Denmark.


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