A microorganism promises macro benefits for economy

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can create a better environment and a healthier economy by cultivating Spirulina — a highly nutritious blue-green algae, said Dr Muhammad Asif Javed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ‘No.1 Organics’ from Rahim Yar Khan, while talking to WealthPK.
He said Spirulina cultivation was growing all over the world and business opportunities concerning its value-added products were coming forth.
“China, France, Ireland, Spain, and India are a few examples of its largest producers. Pakistan can be one of them by bringing awareness among the people. Normally, 100 to 130kgs of Spirulina can be easily delivered in a month. It depends upon the capacity of your culture vessel/pond. Dry Spirulina powder easily sells at PKR600 per kg and around Rs40-50,000 per month can be earned. It requires less water and less land, and is used in wet or dried forms as a complementary dietary ingredient for livestock commercial aqua cultures of prawns, fish, and other industrial productions,” he said.
Continuing the discussion, he said Spirulina Platensis was widely used due to its outstanding nutritional value. They are single-celled, photosynthetic, phototrophic microorganisms, commonly called cyanobacteria. It grows throughout the world and is called the vegetable plankton as well.
“BGA is one among very few botanical sources of all 20 essential amino acids important for life. It is a rich probiotic source to replace the good bacteria lost due to the use of antibiotics in human beings. It is also considered perfect food for the skin and body due to its broad-spectrum nutrients, i.e. essential fatty acids, minerals, proteins, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins (A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, E, K, choline, thiamine, folic acid, biotin), trace minerals (calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, sodium, etc.),” Dr Asif said.
“In short, fewer than 20 such substances have been discovered and are believed to be required for human survival. BGA contains 13 out of them. Spirulina Maxima and Spirulina Platensis are two species of BGA commonly used for a variety of industrial purposes. For example, in the pharma industry, it is used to produce protein supplements and other medicines. It is used to cure high blood pressure and increased levels of cholesterol/lipids in the blood, diabetes, obesity, anemia, night blindness, pancreatitis, glaucoma, etc. New potential uses of spirulina include extraction of a valuable enzyme like Phosphoglycerate Kinase for ATP determination, use in immunodiagnostics as a phycobilin, and superoxide dismutase required in genetic engineering.”
Dr Asif said Spirulina’s anti-oxidant properties prevent cancer possibilities, and its effect on skin nourishment has also paved the way for cosmetic formulations using this alga.
“With fairly high nutritious value, Spirulina is favorable for fish growth and can be used as a complementary nourishing ingredient of feed for poultry, shrimps, fish, etc. It is also a cheap source to get very nutritious biofertilizers. It acts as a binding agent as well as a carbon and nitrogen fixer, which contributes to improving the soil nutrient status of arid soils.”
The ‘No.1 Organics’ CEO said Spirulina culture was also the best tool to reduce pollution from wastewater like domestic sewage to gain nutrient harvest in the form of high-quality protein.
“To avoid hygroscopic action on dry spirulina, it should be packed in airtight plastic bags. It has an ultimate business potential as a food and health supplement for human beings in future. There is no proper setup of such non-conventional farming available in Pakistan. I learned to establish a setup and got all the necessary training from abroad. Now the development of its first-ever set up in Pakistan through my company is rapidly growing to take a start. All necessary structure is developed, and in a month or two, ponds would be active to start production,” he added.
The Spirulina (BGA) market size is projected to grow to US$1,166 million at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4% by the year 2030 from US$ 480 million in 2021. The market size of BGA fertilizer is expected to grow to US$1.470 billion at a CAGR of 12.60% by the year 2028.