MIL OSI Translation. Region: France and French Territories –
Source: United Nations – in French 2
Headline: TESTIMONY: The Barbados entrepreneur turning Sargassum seaweed into cash
For several years, Sargassum seaweed has invaded many beaches in Barbados. Joshua Forte, a local entrepreneur, is convinced that it is possible to turn it into a valuable commodity and turn it into highly effective organic compost.
In 2014, Mr. Forte launched Red Diamond Compost, a biotechnology company that focuses on the research, development and commercialization of organic and biological solutions for soil treatment and crop protection, composed primarily of organic environmental hazards such as than sargassum seaweed.
Mr. Forte is recognized as a national and regional expert in the field of climate-smart environmental management.
“I started getting interested in organic compost in 2009, at a time when I felt seriously ill and was in bed 10 hours a day. I came across a guy online, who was talking about how nutrients and the right foods can improve your health.
I tried changing my diet and within a week I had a huge boost of energy, which I had never felt before.
I started digging deeper and researching food and nutrition and how it affects the body. I saw a contrast between how much of our food is produced in Barbados, with the emphasis on synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals. I have also noticed that the number of young people suffering from type 2 diabetes or obesity is increasing.
In Barbados, toxic chemicals used in agriculture kill beneficial organisms, life in the soil. A scientist from the university even published a report that microbial life is completely decimated.
The problem was bigger than me
I realized that the problem was much bigger than me and that we really had to do something to change the way we produce food.
I had to consider developing a business in this area and that’s where the idea for Red Diamond compost was born.
I intended to produce seaweed fertilizers later. But I had difficulty scaling up. At that time we had a huge influx of Sargassum and I saw the raw material coming to the shores readily available. So I decided to switch gears and focus on developing an algae-based product.
Tomatoes grown using Red Diamond organic compost, made from saragassum seaweed, in Barbados.
Early on, when we experimented with groundnuts, we got amazing results in terms of growth: the small test plot we used received about four times the amount of groundnuts you normally get .
Then we started getting reports from farmers who were using our compost and some of them were getting these kinds of spectacular results with other crops. We have also found that compost improves the flavor of food.
Since we started in 2017, we’ve been operating in the research and development stage and striving to get the equipment we need to scale up.
For most people in Barbados, Sargassum is a hassle, but for me it’s truly a gold mine. I often go harvesting on the beaches, early in the morning, and I tell myself that all this is free for me.
Compost formulation is now at an ideal stage and some of our early adopters have been knocking on our doors trying to get it. They are really enthusiastic”.
The Blue Accelerator Lab
Joshua Forte and Red Diamond have been championed at several events hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Blue Accelerator Lab.
Set up in 2019, the lab breathes a culture of innovation through locally driven solutions in key blue economy sectors such as fisheries, marine conservation, renewable energy, tourism and waste management. .
Part of the lab’s mandate is to research alternative uses of Sargassum seaweed and fish offal for climate action.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure not be perfect.