Adaptation Grant Helps Seaweed Company Expand Operations in Tonga

Seaweed, the new currency

With big plans to expand their operations by developing their packaging for a wider Japanese market, specialist seaweed farming business South Pacific Mozuku Tonga applied to Business Link Pacific for an Adaptation Grant. However, skyrocketing prices and Covid-related supply issues meant the packaging project has temporarily been shelved. 

Thinking laterally, the grant was used instead for a new harvesting vessel, and not a moment too soon. In January 2022 South Pacific Mozuku found themselves with much more pressing issues to deal with, issues which threatened their entire seaweed growing operation. The eruption and ensuing tsunami in Tonga wiped out their seaweed beds and damaged growing nets and vessels. Insurance is picking up much of the cost, but the new vessel has meant the business can re-establish without delay. 

For those unfamiliar with mozuku seaweed – known locally in Tonga as limu tanga’u – worldwide it grows only in Okinawa, Japan, and in Tonga. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is water temperature. Situated just a little further south than other Pacific Island nations, Tonga has slightly cooler water – the perfect temperature in fact for the seaweed to thrive. 

South Pacific Mozuku use nets to plant seaweed spores in nurseries where they grow for around two weeks before being transported to farming areas in open water. Once harvested, cleaned, processed and packed, the seaweed is exported largely to the Japanese market, but also to New Zealand, USA and Europe. Mozuku is popular in Japanese cuisine and is known to have heath properties. With increased production levels it is expected to be used in many food supplements in the future – a real opportunity for this seaweed farming business.

Director and sales and marketing manager (and some-time diver harvesting seaweed, boat driver, and factory worker) Masa Kawaguchi is obviously under immense pressure to get the business back up and running. With between 30 and 45 staff members, depending on the season, that’s a lot of reasons to be highly motivated. 

Masa had no issues with BLP’s online Adaptation Grant process. As he neared the stage when the application was to be submitted, a BLP consultant reviewed the application and offered practical advice.

Because of the nature of the businesses we deal with, we are required to have good financial and business records. That meant most of the information we needed for the application was readily available. It is great to have this type of support from BLP. It encourages us to be proactive and expand our business, look at new opportunities and ways to achieve them. It makes us think about innovative products and find a point of difference. We are so grateful for the grant which we received and look forward to seeing other projects we can work on with BLP’s advice and assistance.

Republished from an article that was written by Business Link Pacific

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