EU visit

Visit from European Union Officials

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.

seaweed drying

Ifaty Seaweed Farmers: Round 2!

Update by RD Aquaculture Intern Oriana Wouters

Training started this week for more fishermen from Ifaty who are joining our Darwin Initiative-funded Alternative Livelihoods Programme. Ifaty is expanding its seaweed farms with 28 fishermen joining the current 40 seaweed farmers from this village. These fishermen were introduced to the materials used to cultivate seaweed, and shown how to prepare their ropes and how to grow the best seaweed. The fishermen received training from both ReefDoctor and current Ifaty farmers who joined the program during the first round last year. The new farmers are very excited about the prospect of seaweed farming, and will continue training for the remainder of the week. They will receive their first seaweed propagules following completion of their training.



sea cucumber juvenile delivery

Record-breaking sea cucumber sales in Ambolomailaky!

Update by RD Aquaculture Intern Oriana Wouters

ReefDoctor is happy to report that on the 26th and 27th of November two sea cucumber sales took place in the villages of Ambolomailaky and Andrevo, as part of our of Darwin Initiative-funded Alternative Livelihoods Project. The 20 farmers who are part of the Ambolomailaky project sold 7 million Ariary (2000 Euro) worth of sea cucumbers. At their last sale in September they had earned 1 million Ariary in sales, so after two months they managed to break their own record! In Andrevo, an also impressive 3.925 million Ariary worth of sea cucumbers were sold! Their efforts, motivation and dedication to the project clearly reflects in their sales! We are very proud of our farmers and together we will continue to work toward a sustainable future for these communities!


Seaweed Farmers Celebrate 1st sale

Darwin Initiative logoReefDoctor’s Darwin Initiative funded project see its first sale of seaweed by the farmers from Ifaty village.

In the Bay of Ranobe, Southwest Madagascar, fishing is more than just a way of life – it is life. There are few formal employment opportunities, and subsistence fishing allows the people to get by on $0.7 – 1.4 USD per day, well below the WHO poverty line of $2 USD. But with approximately 20,000 people all trying to catch the same fish, catches are steadily declining. And when the weather is bad, the villagers often don’t catch anything. ReefDoctor’s alternative livelihoods project, with assistance from the Darwin Initiative, is helping the men and women in the Bay of Ranobe to generate sustainable, reliable incomes, utilising the productive potential of the ocean, rather than over exploiting it.
The red seaweed Kappaphycus Alvarezii is grown for a component called carrageenan, which is used as a binder and stabiliser all over the world in products such as toothpaste, soaps, pharmaceuticals, skin creams, ice cream, pasta, and sauces. ReefDoctor first introduced the concept of seaweed farming to the village of Ifaty, providing start-up materials, access to markets, and ongoing training and support, and in June the farmers sold their first batch of seaweed, total weight of over 2 tons.
Some farmers sold over 200 kg of seaweed, generating more than 100,000 ariary, the equivalent of $31 USD. While this may not seem like much, for one of the poorest regions of one of the poorest countries in the world, this is a windfall, and can be enough to lift them above the poverty line. And now that farmers have experienced the benefits, they are determined to produce more seaweed for their next sale.

And word is spreading. Villages to the north and south of Ifaty are already working with ReefDoctor to develop their own seaweed farms. But the benefits of these farms go beyond lifting fishermen out of poverty. By having a more reliable source of income, farmers spend less time fishing, reducing pressure on the exhausted coral reef ecosystem and especially the marine turtle fishery. The farms are designated no-fishing areas, so their position above seagrass beds provides habitat protection from damaging sources of fishing such as trawl and seine nets, and provides a refuge for targeted fish species. As the number of seaweed farms increases across the Bay of Ranobe, a network of protected areas is forming, providing much needed relief for the marine resources of this beautiful bay.
So before long, the toothpaste you use to brush your teeth may be helping to bring rural Madagascar out of poverty, and protect a coral reef ecosystem.

Ifaty farmers with first seaweed sold and ready to be exported

Ifaty farmers with first seaweed sold and ready to be exported