The Cherish Fisherfolk Association and the Rural Improvement Club of Labuan in Quezon, Palawan welcomed two communal floating solar dryers provided through the Women's Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative to help them improve postharvest processing of seaweed. The drying facilities will make hauling and drying of seaweeds more convenient for fisherfolk and lessen the seaweeds’ exposure to sand, dirt and other contaminants.
Seaweed contains carrageenan, a gelling agent used in many food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Seaweed farming has been a lucrative livelihood for the two organizations. Under the W-GDP Initiative, USAID’s Protect Wildlife project assists women-led organizations in strengthening further their organization, business, and investments in their own enterprises.
The drying facilities use greenhouse covering and UV-treated sheets to protect seaweeds from airborne contaminants and to improve heat retention, thereby facilitating drying even during rainy days. They can hold up to one ton of fresh seaweed and are mobile to allow fisherfolk to dry their harvest near their homes.
The Protect Wildlife project trained the recipients how to operate and maintain the dryers to keep them in working condition. A set of guidelines was developed as regards their operations and rental rates in case non-members want to use them.
Under the W-GDP Initiative, Protect Wildlife targets to support 20 enterprises with active women members and aims to benefit around 5,000 households by strengthening the economic benefits derived from biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. W-GDP support for women’s livelihoods includes training in organizational development, improved production and post-harvest technologies, strengthening access to credit, and facilitating marketing agreements and networking opportunities. (PWP/May Anne Ramos)