Internship: Understanding choices on production of seaweed farmers in Indonesia

Under the Knowledge Development (KB) programme Food security and Water/Aquatic Systems (KB35), a project called “Sustainable production from aquatic systems” is being carried out. This project looks at the potential of seaweed farming to improve global food security. One case study is in Semarang, Indonesia, where a test site has been established. Here a survey was carried out by a local research team and we need a student to help us analyse the results.

Practical information

  • Starting date 1 Feb 2022 (or asap)
  • End date: to be determined with the student
  • Supervisors: Katell Hamon, Sander van de Burg, Marloes Kraan (Wageningen Economic Research) and Ingvild Harkes (Wageningen Marine Research)
  • End result: Analysis of research results, thesis

Understanding choices on production of seaweed farmers in Indonesia

The interest for seaweed is growing world-wide. Seaweed farms are important in contributing directly to food security (as food or food component). Indirectly sea weed makes the transfer possible from production on land to production on sea (which requires less land and fresh water). Seaweed can also form a substitute for production systems that are unsustainable (soy) or that are used to create plastics and biofuels (corn). So the potential and importance for seaweed production are significant. Indonesia is an important producer of seaweed and is being studied by Wageningen University as part of the Aquatic Systems programme. One aspect is to understand how production can be increased in Indonesia and which lessons can be drawn for other parts of the world.

Currently, in Indonesia, farmers are converting their production from rice, to fish, mussels, and nowadays also seaweed. Main reason for the conversion is a sustainable source of income. At the same time, aquaculture requires an investment compared to fishing in terms of time and investments. The ponds are situated on the land. From the studies that have been carried out it appears that a combination of multiple seaweed species seems to work well. Environmental impacts have been measured in a separate project of which a (draft) report is available.

The current study concerns the economic and social aspects of seaweed farming. Both parts need to be analysed separately under supervision of respectively WEcR and WMR. In 2021, a survey has been carried out in Semarang, Indonesia to learn about the economic performance and social aspects of seaweed farming. Questions concerned the choices seaweed farmers make about the type of seaweed culture, whether this is combined with other types of aquaculture such as shrimps or fish. Questions also focused on the advantages of one type of production over the other, market opportunities and what choices farmers make and on what grounds. The data of the survey, that has been carried out by local researchers, needs to be investigated using statistical analysis.

The data is translated into English, but in order to be able to understand the context, an understanding of the Indonesian language and culture would be appreciated. Currently, we have an Indonesian student working on the social aspects, so that part is covered and she can help the second student with the interpretation of cultural aspects. We are now searching for a student to analyse the economic part.


For the current research project in Semarang, a survey was carried out by a local research team amongst 100 seaweed farmers. The survey consisted of closed questions and multiple choice questions, both on the economy and social aspects of seaweed farming. The (elaborate) questionnaire has been tested and was carried out by a local research team. The quantitative data is being put in a data sheet and has been sent to us. The answer sheets contain notes in Indonesian language that may be of interest in the interpretation of the quantitative data. If necessary, we may need to contact the local researchers or famers for additional explanatory or contextual information. We have one Wageningen student from Indonesia working on the social aspects of the survey and we are now looking for a second student to help us with the economic analysis.

Students will work on:

  • Statistical analysis of the research data using R.
  • Theoretical framework (current available WUR research reports)
  • Contextual information (lit study)
  • Development of additional research questions relevant to their own research interests.
  • Analysis of the results.
  • Filling data gaps (additional interviews)
  • Report writing.

The supervisors of the project will assist the student, but a degree of being able to work independently is required.