Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has been outlining measures being undertaken to deal with the Sargassum seaweed problem that has been affecting several coastal communities.
Chastanet told reporters this week that the problem has affected not only Saint Lucia but other Caribbean countries as well.
He observed that hotels have been forced to close due to the buildup of seaweed on the beaches.
“Here in Saint Lucia the strategy we are employing is, the stuff that is already been backed up, we have been collecting it and burying it,” the Prime Minister told a press briefing.
Chastanet noted that a young Saint Lucian entrepreneur has been converting the Sargassum into fertiliser.
It was a reference to Johanan Dujon who in 2014, founded Algas Organics and began experimenting with formulations to to create valuable organic agricultural inputs from the freely available seaweed.
Algas Organics, dubbed the Caribbean’s first indigenous biotech manufacturing company, made its debut with the Total Plant Tonic on the Saint Lucian market in August 2015
“What we have decided to do is to help support him, get this stuff cleared up in the four areas – Savannes Bay, Micoud, Dennery and Praslin,” the PM stated.
“Over the next couple of months we will be working to determine how much of the stuff can be processed, because the plant that he has right now is only at about 20 percent capacity. So what we want to be able to do over the next six months is to collect the Sargassum, cultivate it, see how much we can convert into the fertiliser.”
Chastanet said if the initiative works out well as is hoped, a few more plants can be added.
“What we do know is that Sargassum is not going away and all indications are that it will continue to grow. This is a new expense that we are all having to incur.”
“I am hoping that what we are going to do, in terms of allowing it to come in, cultivate it – meaning we train people; it takes about one week to train them, to clean it off and then to be able to bring it up,” Chastanet explained.
However he told reporters that the problem with that process has to do with water to do the cleaning.
“We have to see whether the economics of doing it will work out – the transportation, the labour and then the water that is going to be required to process it.”