A St. Lucian national is turning what many have described as a nuisance into a booming agricultural business.
Seeing the harm that sargassum seaweed was causing his fellow St. Lucians, especially in households and with fishing equipment on the east coast of Dennery, Johanan Dujon sprang into action to turn a problem into a product.
Dujon noticed that, “Televisions and computers stopped working and other metallic household appliances rusted.” He told OBSERVER AM yesterday that this was happening “because decomposing sargassum seaweed emits hydrogen sulfide into the air. The chemical destroys electronics.”
As the founder and managing director of Algas Organics Limited, he said his goal is to rid the beaches of the seaweed and successfully convert it into Algas Total Plant Tonic, a bio-stimulant that improves plant nutrient uptake efficiency through vigorous root development.
According to independent research findings, in some instances, the product yields superior overall plant growth in comparison to top international brands.
His entrepreneurship is revolutionising the agricultural industry and, he is one of the most successful regional entrepreneurs in the processing of sargassum seaweed, which has become prevalent on coastlines around the Caribbean. The recent change in environmental conditions, he said, has created a severe influx of the seaweed across the region.
His product hit the market in 2015. Now, Dujon said, he is planning to expand his company and is considering proposals from regional leaders.
“We have been speaking to a number of governments throughout the region to franchise the Algas model,” Dujon said. “So, when the seaweed comes into their coastlines, they can collect, process and even export the product to other countries.”
“I believe that every challenge, whether social or environmental, is an opportunity for business,” he added.
“The sargassum is actually a blessing and not a curse. Seaweed contains natural growth hormones and a lot of micronutrients which [are] what plants need,” said Dujon. “Often, in Caribbean agriculture, all we supply plants with is nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. But plants need a whole host of other nutrients, most of which are present in seaweed.”
During the high season, the company employs up to 20 staff in the first phase of the five-stage process of collecting and processing the seaweed. He plans to broaden his company’s scope to reach the household and agricultural chemical industry, including providers of bio-pesticides and bio-fungicides.