building sea cucumber pens

Sea cucumber farming raises households out of poverty

Story by Cale Golding and Oriana Wouters (Aquaculture Team), and Ivana Rubino (RD Comms Officer)

The small fishing community of Andrevo in the Bay of Ranobe celebrated their third crop of farmed sea cucumbers last week, with a record harvest. Five households sold 1639 sea cucumbers in total, generating over 6.6 million MGA (6,626,500 MGA to be exact). That is $2063 USD!  This is the equivalent of each household earning $6.88 USD a day since their last harvest in November 2015.

These sums represent a very successful sale that will allow the community to buy food for their families. In the long term the sale is another significant step forward in bringing this community out of poverty by providing the farmers with a financial reserve to enable them to plan and invest in future stocks and equipment for their farms. They can also draw on this reserve in times of hardship.  Everyone is working towards a time when sea cucumber farming will prove to be a permanent alternative livelihood to ensure that the farmers will no longer need to rely on fishing to feed their families, which in turn will reduce pressure on already over fished stocks in the Bay of Ranobe.

This Darwin Initiative-funded project was established with the aim of lifting families out of poverty.  The excellent results from this latest sea cucumber sale indicate that this being achieved, allowing households more freedom to plan ahead, not only with regard to their farms, but also in relation to education, health, nutrition and improving their overall quality of life. Sea cucumber farming is also contributing to gender equality in the Bay of Ranobe, as many of the farmers are women who have, for the first time in their lives for many, access to their own income and earning power.

While farmers were given assistance to build their pens and purchase juvenile sea cucumbers in the initial stage of the project, they are now in a position to contribute to the purchasing of juveniles, and complete the farming cycle.  This is a significant development in allowing the farmers involved to be independent and self-sustaining at the project’s conclusion, ensuring that communities are lifted out of poverty, and stay out.  The motivation and hard work of every member of each household is clearly evident from the results of the sale.

Now that the first batch of stocked sea cucumbers is within market size, harvests can continue regularly every month, ensuring that households receive continuous income.  For the vulnerable fishing communities of the Bay of Ranobe, this financial security affords a greatly improved quality of life and relieves some of the burden on the coral reef ecosystem.

The sea cucumber farmers and everyone at ReefDoctor are very pleased with the results of the third sale. It is a welcome milestone on the road to the alleviation of poverty and a better standard of living for the people of Andrevo.