The Barbadian entrepreneur turning sargassum into money — Global Issues

In 2014, Mr. Forte founded Red Diamond Compost, a biotech business focused on the research, development and commercialization of organic and biological soil remediation and crop protection solutions. made mainly from organic substances harmful to the environment, such as seaweed sargassum.

  Joshua Forte, founder and CEO of Red Diamond, a Barbados company that makes compost from sargassum seaweed.

Mr. Forte is recognized as a national and regional expert in climate-smart environmental management.

“I became interested in compost in 2009, at a time when I was seriously ill and had to be in bed for 10 hours a day. I ran into someone online who was talking about how the right nutrients and foods can improve your health.

I tried changing my diet and within a week’s time I had a burst of energy that I had never felt before.

I started digging deeper, researching food and nutrition, and how it affects the body. I see a contrast between the way most of our food is produced in Barbados, with a focus on synthetic fertilizers and harmful chemicals. I also see that there is an increase in the number of young people with type two diabetes or obesity.

In Barbados, toxic chemicals used in agriculture are killing beneficial, life-giving organisms in the soil. A scientist at the university here even issued a report, which said that the microbial life here had been completely destroyed.

‘The problem is much bigger than mine’

I realize that the problem is much bigger than just me and that we really need to do something about the way we produce food. I needed to look at growing a business in this area, and that’s where the idea of ​​red diamond compost started.

I had my eye on the production of seaweed fertilizer later on. But I’m having some challenges with scaling. At that time, we had a large stock of sargassum, and I found the raw material only being brought to the shores, readily available. So, I decided to change direction and focus only on developing a seaweed product.

Strange results

From the very beginning, when we did some experiments with peanuts, we saw strange results in terms of development: the small test plot we used received about four times as many peanuts as the amount of peanuts you normally get.

Then we started getting reports from farmers who were taking our compost and using it, and some of them were seeing these dramatic results with other crops. We also found that compost enhances the flavor of foods. Since we started operations in 2017, we’ve been working on that R&D phase, and we’re working to get the equipment we need to scale.

For most people in Barbados, sargassum is a problem, but for me it really is a goldmine. I used to go harvest on the beach early in the morning, and I thought, wow, this is all free to me.

The compost recipe is now in the ideal stage, and some of our early adopters have been knocking on our door trying to get it. They were really excited. “

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