Seafood is an important natural resource on Madagascar, but in the past a number of attempts to start fish farming have failed. This trend has now been reversed through Norges Vel's collaboration with the Madagascan NGO MIDEM (Mission Indépendante pour le Développement et l'Education à Madagascar). 

Fish producers increase production and income

The collaboration, which began in 2011, has the purpose to establish profitable production, organisation, marketing and sale of the world's most farmed fish, Tilapia, on Madagascar. Production is organised in a company run by the producers themselves. 

By means of the project, the producers have halved the fish-production cycles since December 2014. Dependent on the season and temperature, it now takes only 4-6 months from stocking the ponds with fingerlings to harvest of adult fish ready for local market demand. At the same time, the profitability of each cycle has improved by at least 100%. All members now earn around 80 USD a month, well over Madagascar's minimum wage below 60 USD.

Development and skills enhancement yield results

“In the course of four years we have improved all parts of the commercial chain, from improved skills at reproduction and fingerling production to pond building/ maintenance, management and harvesting, improved logistics, sales and marketing. Such work is time-consuming because technology and organisation skills need to be adapted to local conditions and tried out before optimal solutions can be developed”, says Senior Adviser Anne Mugaas in Norges Vel, responsible for the project. 

She continues: “A more effective and profitable organisation of the producers' commercial chain from water to table has been developed. Producers have increased their skills in both technical aspects of fish farming such as feeding, profitability and sustainability and in the registration of data on temperature, water quality, feeding, average fish weight and growth, etc”.  

The local hatchery has been substantially improved by moving from three locations into a joint hatchery which can supply the whole of Madagascar with fingerlings as required. In addition, an improved fish has been introduced which grows more quickly, as well as high-quality feed which also contributes to higher growth/ larger fish in shorter time, providing enhanced profitability. 

More solid and professional local leader- and ownership

In the long term, Norges Vel withdraws from international cooperation projects, in order that the local producers will run everything independently. One step in this direction is a further strengthening and increased professionalism of the organisation. 

“Since January 2015 the local producer-owned companies have been organised into a commonly owned business, Tilapia de l’Est (TDE). Through TDE, the producers have taken over the ownership and leadership of the local hatchery and fingerling production.  They have also taken over the technical support and advisory service, and the feed unit with joint import of quality feed. TDE is also responsible for joint sales to local markets from a local sales point”, says Mugaas. 

Ten-fold increase in fish production over four years

“The number of producers has increased from 54 to just under 100 between 2012 and 2015; more are currently being set up. Even though the number of producers has barely doubled in the period, the production of tilapia for the local market in Tamatave has increased tenfold, from 4 tonnes to 40 tonnes”, the project leader says enthusiastically. 

The estimated annual sale of wild tilapia in Madagascar's largest port, Tamatave, currently officially stands at about 350 tonnes. It is expected that by 2019, TDE will produce at least this volume from a growing number of producers. At the same time, demand for tilapia is increasing from the capital city, Tana. 

Increased availability lowers long-term price

As the availability of fish on the local market increases, the price per kilo is expected to go down. This is compensated for by supporting and promoting more dams per producer from 2016, in addition to a further reduction in production costs. Increased production per producer will also contribute to enhanced individual profitability.  

Mugaas adds: “Intensive work is under way to improve logistic efficiency throughout the commercial chain. At the same time, marketing is being increased with a view to the local population eating ever more fish.  In other words, we are working on both marketing and market development, as well as ensuring that production is constantly matched to market demand”.

Attracting the attention of the authorities and other bodies

“Right from the beginning, the Ministry of Fisheries has been positive; in 2015 they referred to TDE as the best and most profitable tilapia producers they had seen on Madagascar”, Mugaas says proudly.

The good results and the attention of the authorities have led to interest on the part of other bodies, which may contribute to a further development of parts of TDE's commercial chain. 

Would like more women in production

“In 2015 a woman was the best producer with the lowest feeding factor (feed consumption ratio, FCR) – in other words, kg of feed per kg of fish produced. In general, men are in majority in production and the local businesses jointly owned, but we are working to attract more women. At the moment, some 22 per cent of producers and 31 per cent of board members are women. 

Norges Vel’s projects have an objective of contributing to gender equality and to the involvement of both women and men in all parts of the operation, from production to decision-making”, says Mugaas.

A collaborative model that creates advantages for all parties

“The Madagascar model, in which producers have joint access to feed, skills, fingerlings and joint marketing and sales, is a good example which is applicable also to other countries. The project shows how an integrator such as TDE, built up with the support of Norges Vel in close collaboration with Frost Innovation AS, can create great advantages for individual participants. They all gain improved turnover and profitability by means of collaboration and joint activity”, concludes Mugaas.