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PepsiCo, AP Govt in pact for seaweed cultivation

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , Feb. 27

PEPSICO India Holdings Pvt Ltd is set to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Andhra Pradesh Government's Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) and the State Department of Biotechnology to promote cultivation of Eucheuma cottonii (Kappahycus), a red seaweed, by members of women self-help groups (SHGs) in coastal areas.

Announcing this at a press conference here on Friday, the State Director of Biotechnology, Mr Nalini Mohan, said the MoU was likely to be signed on Saturday, and the project would be started within a couple of months.

According to PepsiCo's Executive Director (Exports & External Affairs), Mr Abhiram Seth, Euchema cottonii produces carragenan, a food additive, with varied applications. Carragenan has a binding property and is used as gel in the food processing industry, toothpaste, cosmetics, confectionary and pharmaceuticals.

The Central Salt and Marine Chemical Research Institute, Bhavanagar, is the technology provider and the original cottonii seed source.

The SERP consultant, Ms Meera Shenoy, said the society would facilitate fishermen and other groups for whom the project would provide an alternative livelihood.

Mr Seth said the project entailed adopting the `kudumbam' model of seaweed cultivation, already adopted successfully by PepsiCo in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. The company will depute its experts to disseminate the technology of cultivation to SERP. The experts will monitor trials till the skills were passed on to the stakeholders and create a pool of trainers. PepsiCo will fund the initial trials and buy back the output.

PepsiCo and SERP will work together to implement the project initially in Srikakulam and Guntur districts. Subsequently, SERP will facilitate scaling up the pilots in terms of investment in infrastructure and human resources.

Following successful trials, Mr Seth said PepsiCo would set up a processing plant estimated to cost up to Rs 6 crore. He said at least 10,000 tonnes of seaweed were needed to operate a processing plant and hence, PepsiCo was awaiting scaling-up of the project to establish the processing unit. The company had already exported 200 tonnes of cottonii till now produced in Rameshwaram.

More Stories on : Rural Development | Andhra Pradesh

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