FMC recently donated funds to re-build an elementary school in Madagascar. FMC buys red seaweed from local farmers and uses the seaweed to extract carrageenan that is used as a natural stabilizer and thickening agent in foods.
The Ecole primaire la Pépinière de Nosy Anka, built in 2007 for the seaweed farming villages in Northeast Madagascar, is now in full operation with over 50 students from ages 8 to 11. There are two teachers and a parent-teacher organization to oversee operation of the school. Tuition is paid by the parents from money they earn as seaweed farmers.
According to the teachers, Madame Gildas and Monsieur Sylvaina, the quality of the school is unsurpassed within at least a 300-mile radius and is a dramatic improvement from the dirt floor, grass hut building with no tables or chairs that they used before.
In addition to regular curriculum, the children are also learning skills to improve their quality of life such as sanitation, hygiene and water safety when at the beach. The school is also creating a sense of community and stability for the local farming villages, said Erick Ask, FMC BioPolymer raw materials development manager. Since the school’s opening, an improvement in seaweed production and quality has been seen.
There are additional plans to use the building for adult education since many of the farmers are illiterate, have limited math skills and do not speak French, which is the second official language of Madagascar. By taking part in the adult school, the seaweed farmers can look forward to further improvements in their farms’ productivity as they learn new literacy and math skills in addition to better hygiene, sanitation and nutrition skills.