Seaweed farming at Uroa, a fishermen village on Zanzibar’s center-east coast picture by Moongateclimber

Seaweed, sex and soap

the impact of the value chain in a traditional village in Zanzibar

Women in Page don’t work; they take care of their children.

Women in this traditional village in east Africa Zanzibar don’t leave the house unless they should go to a wedding, funeral or visit a relative.

But then some women became seaweed farmers…

Every day these women go to the sea.

Then they realized the value of the value chain and started creating new products from seaweed — shampoo, soap... Seaweeds per se are cheap, but the products you can make from seaweeds are valued.

Today we are leaving Thailand where most AquaTED stories take place, but seaweed production is minimal. We will listen to a BBC podcast to learn about the seaweed value chain in Zanzibar; how it seemed to improve the local economy and how climate change, world trade and globalization is threatening this fragile chain.

Click here to download the podcast.


You are reading a short series of factual stories about the seafood production system — this is the third of four stories. I use storytelling to facilitate conversations about aquaculture, fisheries, and all the other industries along the way. If you are an educator you can use this site in blended learning — see below learning objectives, suggested activities and further reading.

You can contact me through LinkedIn.


NEXT STORY: A visit to the fish market | PREVIOUS STORY: For every 2 fish you get one comes from aquaculture|

Below are some examples of Learning Objectives for this story

  • To define value chain
  • To relate the impact of the seaweed value chain in socio-economics and social change
  • To identify the fragility of seaweed crops in the face of climate change

Suggested activities

Find out more about the chemical compounds that can be extracted from seaweeds:

  • what are they?
  • How can we recognise these chemical in the labels of food packaging?
  • Find out what e-numbers are.
  • What are the main products that you can find on a daily basis that have these compounds in their ingredients? Bring them to class.

Find out how seaweed farming is affecting women’s health and working conditions

Further reading

Explainer: what are E numbers and should you avoid them in your diet?

Scientific paper: Seaweed mariculture as a development project in Zanzibar, East Africa: A price too high to pay?

Seaweed polysaccharides