The epidemic of COVID-19 has severely affected seaweed business in Indonesia. In order to discuss the state of affairs in it and possible outcomes, more than 60 members of Tropical Seaweed Innovation Network (TSIN) gathered for a video conference in late April, 2020, organized by Global Quality and Standards Programme (an initiative of the UN Industrial Development and the Government of Switzerland).
The consultation was headed by Advisor to the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Artati Widiarti and Andri Wahyono, Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment. Among the participants were representatives of ministries, universities, institutions, seaweed associations etc.
The impact on the seaweed business includes the falling demand for raw materials and plunging prices. For example, the price for the top-exported Cottonii seaweed decreased by almost 50%.During the talks, experts claimed that the scope of challenges depended on the type of products but overall dynamics were bad.
However, according to Donny Nagasan, chairman of ASTRULI (the Seaweed Industry Association of Indonesia), the increase in medical testing around the world has created new opportunities for the industry to offer new products, such as high bacto agar from Gracillaria, which serves as laboratory medium for COVID-19 testing.