A Government minister is pleading with entrepreneurs to help the country capitalize on tons of sargassum seaweed washing up on the shores of Barbados.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey made the plea as he revealed that approximately 99 per cent of the seaweed at beaches across the country was being wasted.
He was responding to questions raised about government’s commitment to entrepreneurs seeking to create secondary products from the often overwhelming buildup of seaweed on the country’s beaches.
While Humphrey lauded the efforts of some Barbadians who were taking advantage of the opportunity for economic enfranchisement, he appealed for more people to come forward.
“It makes no sense for us to continue engaging in the practice of taking something that God has given us as a waste product over and over and over when I believe it has productive value,” he said.
While praising the work of National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers and Barbados Defence Force (BDF) soldiers who have committed themselves to eliminating the seaweed, Humphrey said the vast majority of the valuable product was being dumped.
“I would like people to come and take some freely. We just ordered a harvester, which would be used to take the sargassum off the coastal waters, and take it straight onto the truck. So that you get the fresh sargassum, you harvest it when its fresh and then you use it for productive processes.”
The minister further indicated that government was not currently in a position to finance a plant for large-scale harvesting of the plant.
“That is why we want to work through the private sector, we want to work through the NGO sector and we will share in this risk and hopefully we could also share in the spoils.
“As it stands right now, feel free to call the ministry, send an email, send a whatsapp. Just get in contact with us any way you can, because I really want to work with you.
“What I would like is that one day I have a room filled with people who are working with sargassum, converting it into something. I want to move that one per cent to 50 per cent” said Humphrey.