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.