Nor AM, Gray TS, Caldwell GS & Stead SM (2017) Is a cooperative approach to seaweed farming effectual? An analysis of the seaweed cluster project (SCP), Malaysia. Journal of Applied Phycology, 29 (5), pp. 2323-2337. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-016-1025-y
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 limited 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 integrate stakeholders into decision-making.
Aquaculture; Seaweed farming; Governance; Community; Policy; Malaysia
Journal of Applied Phycology: Volume 29, Issue 5