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Farming of agarophytes in India—a long-time sustainability for the industry and preserving wild stocks

Ganesan, M., Eswaran, K., Reddy, C.R.K.
Journal of applied phycology 2017 v.29 no.5 pp. 2239-2248
Gelidiella, Gracilaria verrucosa, agar, agarose, biomass, coasts, commercial farms, industry, macroalgae, raw materials, reefs, sustainable development, India
In India, food-grade agar is produced from Gracilaria edulis while bacteriological-grade agar is extracted from Gelidiella acerosa. Agarose is directly obtained from Gracilaria dura. Seaweeds for agar production mainly come from wild stocks located in reefs of the Gulf of Mannar, southeast coast. Landings of Gr. edulis were peak (982 dry t) during 1990 while landings of Ge. acerosa reached maximum (665 dry t) during 2002–2003. Overexploitation is leading to a decrease in biomass of these two algae at an alarming rate for the last decade. Commercial cultivation of agarophytes is yet to increase in India in spite of growing pressure on wild stocks triggered by increase in demand of raw material by the industry. Taking this into consideration, a number of efforts have been initiated to develop feasible cultivation methods for agarophytes. The present paper summarizes various methods developed for commercial cultivation of Gr. edulis, Gr. dura, Gracilaria verrucosa and Ge. acerosa in the open sea. We also discuss the challenges in the development of commercial farming of agarophytes in India.