First person: the Barbadian entrepreneur transforms sargassum into money |

In 2014, Mr. Forte launched Red Diamond Compost, a biotechnology company that focuses on the research, development and commercialization of organic and biological soil treatment and crop protection solutions, consisting primarily of organic environmental hazards, such as Sargassum algae.

Joshua Forte, Founder and CEO of Red Diamond, a Barbadian company making organic compost from Sargassum seaweed., by Red Diamond

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

“I started getting interested in organic compost in 2009, at a time when I felt seriously ill and was in bed 10 hours a day. I came across a guy online, who was talking about how nutrients and the right foods can improve your health.

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

I started digging deeper and researching food and nutrition and how it affects the body. I saw a contrast between how much of our food is produced in Barbados, with an emphasis on synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals. I have also noticed that there is an increase in the number of young people with type 2 diabetes or obesity.

In Barbados, toxic chemicals used in agriculture kill beneficial organisms, life in the soil. A scientist from the university here even published a report, which says that the microbial life is completely decimated.


Flowers grown using Red Diamond organic compost, made with saragassum seaweed in Barbados.

red diamond

Flowers grown using Red Diamond organic compost, made with saragassum seaweed in Barbados.

“The problem was much bigger than me”

I realized that the problem was much bigger than me and that we really had to do something to improve the way we produce food. I needed to consider building a business in this area, and that’s where the idea for Red Diamond compost was born.

I had my eye on producing seaweed fertilizer further down the road. But I had some difficulties with the scaling. At that time we had a huge influx of Sargassum, and I saw the raw material coming to shore, readily available. So I decided to switch gears and just focus on developing an algae-based product.


Tomatoes grown using Red Diamond organic compost, made with saragassum seaweed in Barbados.

red diamond

Tomatoes grown using Red Diamond organic compost, made with saragassum seaweed in Barbados.

Bizarre results

Early on, when we did a few trials with peanuts, we saw bizarre results in terms of growth: the small test plot we used received about four times the amount of peanuts you would normally get.

Then we started getting reports from farmers who were taking our compost and using it and some of them were seeing these kind of drastic results with other crops. We have also found that compost enhances the flavor of food. Since we started in 2017, we have been operating in this R&D phase, and we are working to get the equipment we need to grow.

For most people in Barbados, Sargassum is a hassle, but for me, it really is a goldmine. I often go out harvesting on the beaches, early in the morning, and I think, wow, this is all free, for me.

Compost formulation is now at an ideal stage, and some of our early adopters have been knocking on our doors trying to get it. They are really excited.

About Charles Holmes

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