Tanzanian seaweed output jumps in Q3 2023 after tax policy changes

A woman in Tanzania farming seaweed.

Tanzania’s seaweed production increased by more than 52 percent year over year in Q3 2023 as the sector took advantage of higher prices and lower costs for export permits, thanks to an initiative the country’s government instituted in June.

Statistics from the Bank of Tanzania show the nation's seaweed production during the period reached 3,972 metric tons (MT) – a slight improvement over the 3,932 MT produced in Q2 2023. The East African country’s total seaweed output between January and September of this year amounted to 10,592 MT.

Tanzania’s production is comprised almost entirely of the species E. spinosum, and the country is currently the African leader in seaweed production – ahead of Madagascar, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya.

A June tax policy change implemented by Tanzania’s Ministry of Finance was a major factor in ensuring the country’s seaweed production has continued to improve, as the ministry announced a reduction in the fee required to attain export and import permits for seaweed. The fees were reduced from USD 500 (EUR 459) to USD 300 (EUR 275) for small-scale seaweed producers, and USD 600 (EUR 551) to USD 400 (EUR 367) for large-scale producers.

Tanzania’s spike in seaweed production could also be an indicator of global recovery within the sector, according to a recent World Bank report, which found the industry experienced “lower production overall” between 2015 and 2020.

The report attributes the decline in production to challenges such as climate change, which “is creating shorter growing seasons and warmer waters, leading to a decrease in commercial seaweed yields.”

Tanzania’s government is not the only entity in Africa working to increase seaweed production and exports. Other projects, led by governments and non-governmental organizations are working to increase production in countries including Kenya and Madagascar.

One example is the Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) which has offered technical support for female seaweed farmers in ... 

Photo courtesy of Ocean Farmers

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