Free Press Journal

Forget fish, healthy seaweeds coming



New Delhi : Seaweeds may soon become our culinary delight due to their high nutritional value and easy processing. Thanks to the first-ever pilot project by the government-funded scientists, seaweed, commonly called thread algae, found in abundance in Sunderban delta has been converted into power for use in making breads, cookies and ice creams.

It was part of a climate change project undertaken by the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR) aimed at generation of alternative livelihood for the coastal dwellers. The CSIR is now linking the villages with the bakeries and ice cream companies for sustainable income to the coastal dwellers.

The purpose is to help the coastal communities to come up with measures of mitigation and adaptation to climate change with stress on improving sustainable solutions for livelihood, says Dr J Sundaresan, lead scientist and coordinator of the CSIR.

In Sunderban, the thread algae (Enteromorpha intestinalis) is being used as a step in this direction, says Dr Abhijit Mitra, an expert on oceanography from the Department of Marine Science, University of Calcutta.

His team collects samples of the seaweed from the remote islands while sensitising the local communities on their importance and means of extraction in at least six villages in the area. The CSIR is forwarding the technique developed by the team to various coastal states to explore the seaweeds found in abundance at the sea shores.

Experts say seaweeds can be an excellent value addition in case of ice creams to reduce the nutritional deficiencies caused by sugar and artificial flavours as they can be enriched with wide rage of constituents such as iron and calcium as minerals, protein, with all essential amino acids, vitamins and fibre.

The technique perfected by the team involves extraction of the seaweed mass using steam to drip out seaweed bundled and tied up to a cloth suspended over steam. The green extract that starts pouring out is collected. As a team member underlined, the technique is not expensive or hi-tech since it has been developed for the target communities with low means.