Women in aquaculture: Dr Flower Msuya
Dr Flower Msuya, chairperson and facilitator at the Zanzibar Seaweed Cluster Initiative (ZaSCI) works in villages in Zanzibar to study climate change, modify farming methods and add value to seaweed. As the Tanzanian island’s seaweed aquaculture takes off, Dr Msuya is confident that opportunities for women will continue to rise.
Briefly describe your aquaculture career
I’m a marine biologist working as a researcher, with a focus on seaweed farming and integrated aquaculture. I also conduct research on women and seaweed-farming health issues that could occur while farming (for example, stings and cuts) and at home (such as injuries from storage of seaweed in the house). I also research the impact of climate change on seaweed farming. In addition to this, I’m the chairperson and facilitator of the Zanzibar Seaweed Cluster Initiative (ZaSCI), where I started working to add value to seaweed by making seaweed powder and soap.
What inspired you to start in aquaculture?
During my undergraduate degree, I took a course in phycology – the study of algae and seaweed. Looking at plants grown in the sea, I wanted to learn more about them. When I started working with them, and my career began in earnest, I realised that women in Tanzania actually cultivated these plants. This made me feel that I should do something to help them improve their livelihoods. So I did my PhD in seaweed integrated aquaculture and have continued working in that field ever since.
Describe a typical day in your current role
When I wake up in the morning I go to my office. I have a lot of work to do there involving my research, but I also have to talk to people who come to see me, such as seaweed farmers, small-scale processors, government officers, fellow researchers, business entities, individuals and so on. I also answer telephone calls throughout the day from different farmers and farmer groups, and at the same time have students and young researchers who I have to help. A typical day at the office ends between 5pm and 7pm. Office hours usually end at 4pm (8am-4pm) but not in my case! After work I go home, eat dinner and try to rest but in most cases I still have to answer telephone calls and respond to email messages until about 10pm.
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