- First meeting
- 2010, October 17th
- Last update
- October 2016
- Spirulina cultivation, food, malnourishment correction, social development, micronutrient deficiency, women empowerment
“In our view, spirulina is the best food supplement we can use all over the world to correct any micronutrient deficiency disease.“
In Madurai, in India, the Spirulina Production Research and Training Center use the power of spirulina for combating malnutrition among rural children and empower women through this blue-green alga cultivation.
My name is Arthi, I am the production in charge person for the project called Spirulina Production Research and Training Center which is in the state of Tamil nadu, Madurai district. It is a unit of Antenna Green Trust.
Objectives & Activities
We are doing many kind of social work, mainly about malnourishment correction among the rural children. Basically we are taking spirulina as a tool to correct that malnourishment.
- Malnourishment correction
In India, we are having many rural children malnourished basically they are undernourished. We chose an economical too which needs a very little amount of food but should help the people to come up from that malnourishment. We have been cultivating spirulina for the past 15 years. Basically we have covered around 20 000 children for the past 15 years. We are trying our best to correct the malnourishment by giving spirulina to children from the age group 3 to 7 years old, giving them like 1g per day for about 6 months to one year through schools, through SHE people, through some other NGO people, some other interested individuals. We are not giving directly spirulina powder, we are making some fortified products like chikkies and candies, so that they can get some micronutrients rich food everyday. This is our main objective.
- Women empowerment
The next thing is by cultivating spirulina locally, we are giving employment to the rural women. This is one more objective we are dealing with.
Apart from that, we are doing some marketing too. Whatever we get from the marketing, we are utilizing that for the free-feeding program.
- Research & Training
We are doing some research, small scale research and also for students, whoever wants to do some research on spirulina, we help them through institutions, colleges, and universities. Also we provide spirulina cultivation training to the interested individuals + some NGO’s. They can come and stay here and they can learn how to cultivate spirulina.
We are cultivating spirulina in the category of Arthrospira platensis, which is in a subspecies named called lonar, lonar is an Indian variety. Basically most of its characteristics belong to the blue-green algae, like a normal alga, but some of the qualities it belong to bacteria, so we call it a cyanobacteria.
In the production unit, we are having 700 square meters of a production area. Here we are having like a Tarpaulin Malakoff tank because it is pure NGO model, we can detach from one place to another place. Each tank is having the size of 3mx6m, 18m2 tank. About 12 women are working in our production site. One lady can manage 3 tanks. Everyday they will come at around 7am in the morning and do the harvesting work. In each tank, it is about 4000L, exactly 3600L of culture is there in each tank. That is about 20cm in depth. Everyday we can harvest, we can take out some of the quantity, that’s called harvesting. We are having special cloth called mesh cloth. We use that cloth, 350µm or 400µm or 450µm, (that is up to the size of spirulina, we can change). Using the mesh cloth, we pour the culture through the filter, we can filter only spirulina and the remaining medium will go again mixing to the culture. Everyday, we can harvest spirulina, about 1/4th quantity of the culture. In 3600L we are taking out 900L. From that 900L, whatever quantity it has, like 2kg, or 2,5kg, or 3kg of wet mass we can take it out. It is like a green color thick duff like, so it’s called slurry. That slurry is again washed with pure water, filtered water because we are maintaining spirulina in a very alkaline medium so when it comes out it will have some other nutrients too, we have to wash it properly. Then, after washing, we will dry it in the food grade polyethylene sheds. We spread it in a very thin way so that in photo pyrolysis, it will get well dry. We are doing harvesting in the early morning because we have to dry within a day .
The dried product can be eaten raw or also like any kind of fortified products. For the children up to 5 years, they can take only 1g and that will fulfill their micronutrient requirements. We are not talking about protein or carbohydrates or fat, it’s all about micronutrients. From many foods we can get many kinds of nutrients. The best thing with spirulina is that many of the nutrients, mainly the micronutrients, are all together present in spirulina, except 2 small, like iodine and vitamin C. Except vitamin C, all other vitamins, and except iodine, all other minerals all present in spirulina. It is called super-food. One gram of spirulina is equivalent to thousands grams of assorted fruits or vegetables. That much of micronutrients is present in spirulina. With the small quantity of spirulina we can rectify many kinds of micronutrient deficiencies. All over the the world, the number of people affected by macronutrients deficiencies is less compared to people affected by micronutrient deficiency diseases. To correct the micronutrient deficiency diseases, we need some good micronutrients-rich food. We can give spirulina in that kind of deficiency disease to correct easily since it is a 100% natural product.
All over the world, 2 main microdeficiencies are very common: iron deficiency and vitamin A deficiency:
- Iron deficiency
In iron deficiency, we can get many iron rich foods. But most of these foods we take, we process them. Due to that process, we eliminate most of the vitamins. Iron can be absorbed by our body with a combination of some vitamins. In that process, we eliminate most of the vitamins: whatever minerals we are having, it will go to our body but it will not be absorbed, well absorbed by our body since it is not combined with any kind of vitamins. But in the case of spirulina, we are taking it like that: we are not going to process it, we are not going to cook it, so it has more minerals with many vitamins, it will get absorbed well. If we compare spirulina with other iron-rich food, it is at least 10 times better than other iron-rich food. It has a good iron value, and also 85 to 90% will get absorbed. This is the main point.
- Vitamin A deficiency
In the case of vitamin A, if somebody is affected by deficiencies, then they will take vitamin A. If you take more vitamin A in the form of vitamin A, overdosage will give some side effects. But if it is in the form of beta-carotene, then it will be well absorbed, and also, it will not give any side effects. It is 100% safe. Spirulina has more quantity of beta carotene that is in the form of provitamin A. It will be well utilized: whatever quantity of vitamin A we need, it will be converted to A and the excess amount of beta-carotene will be utilized for many other works, like free radical control and other kind of related health benefits. In our view it is the best food supplement we can use all over the world to correct any micronutrient deficiency disease.
Spirulina, a solution for sustainability?
Nowadays, there are so many kinds of disturbances like pollution, heavy pollution or global warming or overpopulation. There are so many things. But in that way, spirulina will contribute in some kind of solution. Like, nowadays, many people are working, working, working, without taking good kind of quality foods. Previously they were working for eating; nowadays, they are working, working, working for having many kind of houses or properties. They are not worried about the health basically; Spirulina is a natural product and it’s also like a plant, it provides us oxygen to respire. Even it’s not like a normal plant, it is like superior to all plant in a way: it is going to give more kind of help in improving our health status through very small quantity. In that way it will be very helpful to all of us. Even in correcting pollutions, and also in correcting global warming. Everybody is saying “plant a tree, plant a tree, grow some kind of plant…”. If we grow spirulina in our houses, it will improve our health and it will be also helpful to create a good atmosphere. In this kind of way it will be useful, this is my opinion.