"Moss Gold" - The Potential of the Seamoss Industry
(Contribution by Ms Euthalia Philgence)
Saint Lucia is becoming renowned for its sea-moss worldwide with millions in sales being generated in the last few years - a significant economic contribution that bodes well for the future of the industry in Saint Lucia. Seamoss is synonymous to our banana industry which was deemed “Green Gold” not too long ago. And if the trend continues seamoss will be the next gold product maybe “moss gold”. However, one of the issues we had in the banana industry was the apparent concentration on the production and sale of the primary product and not as much on value-added products. Hence, when the preferential treatment for the industry ended there was a scramble for what to do next and unfortunately, we are still trying to play catch-up despite some progress. The lessons learned from the past should propel every stakeholder to ensure that the seamoss industry does not suffer the same fate as “green gold”.
Therefore, it is imperative that we look at the entire value chain to ensure that we take advantage of all the tentacles of opportunity that the seamoss industry has to offer. Although we have made strides into creating products such as drinks, powder, and to a lesser extent cosmetics but that is the tip of the iceberg. Seamoss is so versatile, it requires a creative and innovative thrust so we can develop value-added products, not just foods but cosmetics and other industrial products. Apart from the obvious production, there are several related services that can be derived from the industry. For example, there is a need for solar dryers, bleaching apparatus, equipment, packaging, product development, maintenance personnel for the equipment, electricians, and engineers to set up the equipment. Have we even considered the entire sector? It is noteworthy the deep interest on the part of the Government of Saint Lucia given the increase in support for groups and persons through agencies like the Department of Fisheries and Export St. Lucia and others. At least, signals a recognition of the industry’s potential and the ability to attract funding.
There is always a tendency to have a myopic view of an industry, hence we miss the entire boat and only benefit from just a small part. If that small part disappears then there is nothing else to do. This time around the industry should be looked at in its entirety and take advantage of all the socio-economical benefits of the “moss gold”.
About Euthalia Philgence
Euthalia is from a small farming and fishing community in Saint Lucia and has had an interest in the agriculture sector since childhood. Professionally, she has been in the food industry for over thirty years and has devoted much of her time to the sector.
She holds a MSc degree in Food Safety, a BSc in Nutrition, and ASc in Food Technology, and holds a certificate in Culinary Arts. She is also a certified trainer and assessor and is a holder of many other certifications which include, business management, coaching, and customer service, and she uses her skills to support agro-processors and farmers. Euthalia believes in continuous growth and is currently studying Agri-business.