Biotechnology company StemCell United (ASX: SCU) has signed a joint venture agreement with Blue Aqua International to cultivate and farm sea grapes in Singapore on a commercial scale.
Also known as green caviar, sea grapes (Caulerpa Lentillifera) are a tropical aquatic vegetable native to many parts of the Indo-Pacific coast and a staple delicacy in Japan and regions of south-east Asia.
StemCell has previously successfully trialled the application of plant stem cell technology on sea grape cultivation at its research base located in the Marine Aquaculture Centre on Singapore’s St John Island.
The company is now moving towards commercial cultivation through the creation of the joint venture with Blue Aqua, which will combine the strengths of both parties to create an integrated aquaculture farming system.
The collaboration aims to implement part of a scalable circular economy in aquaculture, with plans to promote the sea grape’s unique qualities as a sustainable superfood and plant-based protein.
Sustainable food sources
StemCell executive chairman Philip Gu said the joint venture is based on the development of sustainable food sources for future generations.
“We are honoured to be able to partner with Blue Aqua to make sea grapes available to the growing population on a commercial scale, and with the strong belief that they will become part of a recognised balanced diet mix,” he said.
The partnership will further StemCell’s efforts to make a substantial contribution to the Singapore government’s “30 by 30” initiative, which aims to increase Singapore’s local food production from its current level of 10% to 30% by 2030.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional urgency for Singapore’s food security concerns, which makes this joint venture even more compelling,” Mr Gu said.
Blue Aqua International is a one-stop solution provider for the global aquaculture industry.
Specifically, the group provides cutting-edge solutions for the management of the aquaculture environment and the optimisation of animal nutrition.
Blue Aqua founder and chief executive Dr Farshad Shishehchian pointed to a “palpable synergy” between the joint venture partners.
“Passion and a strong technological partnership is a good recipe for sustainable growth,” he said.
The two companies will conduct the sea grape project under the jointly incorporated company SCU Green Aqua Farm Pte Ltd.
“SCU Green Aqua Farm embodies our continual efforts to build a circular economy in aquaculture, starting with our own production systems towards the development of sustainable nutrition globally,” Dr Shishehchian said.