Story by Cale Golding (Senior Aquaculture Technician) & Ivana Rubino (RD Comms Officer)
On Saturday 6th February representatives of the Pole Integres de Croissance (PIC – a government-funded project that aims to develop a better understanding of economics for already established projects and businesses in Madagascar), the General Director of the Ministry of Fisheries of Madagascar – Monsieur Gilbert, and the Director of Fisheries for Toliara – Monsieur Emilson, visited the village of Andrevo to meet with sea cucumber farmers and see their Darwin Initiative-funded aquaculture project first hand.
The farmers of Andrevo, together with representatives of ReefDoctor explained how the sea cucumber farming project works and gave a tour of the debarcadere, where sea cucumber sales take place in the village. The visitors were also shown the location of the farm and were interested in understanding the dynamics of the project. They were especially impressed with the sustainable earning potential of the farming model.
This visit comes at a time when Andrevo and its farmers are really starting to make substantial strides forward in sea cucumber farming and in lifting themselves out of poverty. Just two weeks after a record sale from which the community earned 6.6 million MGA collectively, another sale on Monday 8th February generated a further 2.5 million MGA. This means that Andrevo’s farmers have earned approximately 15 times their usual income since November 2015, and since November 2014, the inception of the project, they have earnt almost $2 USD per day. Some of the farmers have used this income to replace the vondro roofs of their homes with corrugated iron, which is more durable than the vondro reeds that degrade quickly and offer little protection from the elements. Other farmers can now send their children to school, an opportunity they would not have been able to afford otherwise.
More significantly, the farmers are planning ahead and managing their farms with an eye to a sustainable future and continuous income. This latest sale and its incredible result just two weeks after a bumper crop, is a very positive indication that sea cucumber farming can provide a sustainable and improved future for these farmers and the community.
Story by Cale Golding and Oriana Wouters (Aquaculture Team), and Ivana Rubino (RD Comms Officer)
The small fishing community of Andrevo in the Bay of Ranobe celebrated their third crop of farmed sea cucumbers last week, with a record harvest. Five households sold 1639 sea cucumbers in total, generating over 6.6 million MGA (6,626,500 MGA to be exact). That is $2063 USD! This is the equivalent of each household earning $6.88 USD a day since their last harvest in November 2015.
These sums represent a very successful sale that will allow the community to buy food for their families. In the long term the sale is another significant step forward in bringing this community out of poverty by providing the farmers with a financial reserve to enable them to plan and invest in future stocks and equipment for their farms. They can also draw on this reserve in times of hardship. Everyone is working towards a time when sea cucumber farming will prove to be a permanent alternative livelihood to ensure that the farmers will no longer need to rely on fishing to feed their families, which in turn will reduce pressure on already over fished stocks in the Bay of Ranobe.
This Darwin Initiative-funded project was established with the aim of lifting families out of poverty. The excellent results from this latest sea cucumber sale indicate that this being achieved, allowing households more freedom to plan ahead, not only with regard to their farms, but also in relation to education, health, nutrition and improving their overall quality of life. Sea cucumber farming is also contributing to gender equality in the Bay of Ranobe, as many of the farmers are women who have, for the first time in their lives for many, access to their own income and earning power.
While farmers were given assistance to build their pens and purchase juvenile sea cucumbers in the initial stage of the project, they are now in a position to contribute to the purchasing of juveniles, and complete the farming cycle. This is a significant development in allowing the farmers involved to be independent and self-sustaining at the project’s conclusion, ensuring that communities are lifted out of poverty, and stay out. The motivation and hard work of every member of each household is clearly evident from the results of the sale.
Now that the first batch of stocked sea cucumbers is within market size, harvests can continue regularly every month, ensuring that households receive continuous income. For the vulnerable fishing communities of the Bay of Ranobe, this financial security affords a greatly improved quality of life and relieves some of the burden on the coral reef ecosystem.
The sea cucumber farmers and everyone at ReefDoctor are very pleased with the results of the third sale. It is a welcome milestone on the road to the alleviation of poverty and a better standard of living for the people of Andrevo.
Story by Ivana Rubino, Communications Officer
It’s a very proud day for ReefDoctor and the Bay of Ranobe as Irenne Cavesy, our first female seaweed technician, begins work training seaweed farmers in the community.
Madam Cavesy has been farming seaweed with her son in Mangily since March 2015. She recently began training as a technician because she wanted to develop seaweed farming in the region by sharing her knowledge and experience with the community and neighbouring villages.
ReefDoctor is very proud of all the seaweed technicians and what they have achieved in recent months, but we are especially proud of Madam Cavesy because she is pioneering the advancement of women in seaweed farming in this region. In her own words, she is proud of herself for being the first female seaweed technician. She now has the skills and training to educate other women in the community; promoting gender equality and empowering Vezo women.
We wish Madam Cavesy and all the seaweed technicians in the bay continued success in the expansion of the Darwin Initiative-funded alternative livelihoods project and working towards a better quality of life.
Story by Cale Golding, Senior Aquaculture Scientist
On the 16th December delegates from the European Union arrived in the village of Ambolomailaky to witness first-hand the success of ReefDoctor’s Darwin Initiative-funded Alternative Livelihoods Project. The village has been farming sea cucumbers for a year now, and has generated over 8 million ariary for the local community. After visiting the sea cucumber aquaculture site, European Union officials met with farmers and discussed the hardships facing the community. The delegates were impressed by the scope of the Darwin Initiative project, and praised ReefDoctor for their efforts in addressing poverty in this region.
Story by Communications Officer Ivana Rubino
We recently updated you on the progress of the refurbishment of the classroom. We are now delighted to say that everything is finished and it looks amazing! What was once a well-used and weather beaten classroom has been has been renovated into a fantastic new education facility for the local community.
The classroom was formally opened with a ceremony last Thursday attended by the Junior ReefDoctors, their parents, the director of Ifaty school and the elders of the village.
Everyone loved the new classroom and the artwork. The ReefDoctor team is very excited about starting to use this space in the new year for Junior ReefDoctor classes, Kids Club, English lessons for members of the local community, and for other various community education programmes in the future. We would like to take this opportunity to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone who raised and donated funds to refurbish the school, and to everyone who took part in the rebuild.