Subscribe Search

Search form

Algae farm about to expand

What’s slime to some is health-invoking algae to others. JESS DYER
What’s slime to some is health-invoking algae to others. JESS DYER

Algae farm about to expand

Earlier this month, 16 NGOs attended an information day at Antenna Technologies’ Siem Reap algae farm to learn more about the production and benefits of spirulina, a micro algae which grows well in tropical climates and is high in protein, vitamins, iron, calcium and other nutritional goodies.

The Siem Reap algae farm opened in May 2011 and started producing spirulina a few months later in November. The farm, which provides sustainable jobs for ten local employees, consists of four large tanks which house the spirulina, and two more tanks will soon be built to increase production.

Jean-François Biela, Antenna’s Cambodian representative, explained the benefits of the algae saying, “Spirulina can get children out of a state of malnutrition and help them recover. It is exceptionally high in vitamin A and iron.”

At present, Antenna works in partnership with three NGOs but wants to increase this number. It distributes some of its produce commercially at market value, but much of it is sold in poor rural communities below cost by micro businesses. These local sellers are trained in the benefits of spirulina and how it should be consumed, and supported in their business by Antenna.

A 10-day supply for one child is sold to families for 1500 riel, allowing the reseller to make a small profit. Biela said, “We try to make the packaging as simple as possible and we spend a lot of time on training.”

“We want to focus on children under five years old who suffer from chronic malnutrition as it is important for their brain development that they have good nutrition. Our other targets are pregnant women, breastfeeding women and people living with HIV.”

Antenna provides training and free samples for six-week courses so organisations can assess benefits and outcomes. Thereafter they can purchase the supplement at a low cost, in bulk, from Antenna.

Antenna is in the process of getting an agreement with the Ministry of Health to have spirulina recognised as a food supplement in Cambodia. Biela hopes that the farm can then be handed over to full Cambodian management.

There is some skepticism about the benefits of the algae as large-scale peer-reviewed studies have yet to be carried out. But Biela said, “In our experience and from all our feedback we always get the same answers: the children sleep better, they feel better, they feel stronger, they are less sick. Sometimes they say they feel cleverer, and their hair and skin looks healthier.”

Curious expats looking to sample the algae can buy a packet from Peace Café and test the results of this locally grown product themselves.

Joanna Wolfarth

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially