ANTANANARIVO — On May 16, the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new and innovative public-private partnership to promote sustainable seaweed and sea cucumber farming with Ocean Farmers and Indian Ocean Trepang, two local aquaculture companies.
This five-year, $6.3 million partnership, called Nosy Manga (Blue Island), will work with local communities in the Menabe and Atsimo-Andrefana regions and communities from the Makira, Masoala, Antongil Bay (MaMaBay) landscape.
“Nosy Manga is a project with great potential to create a model of sea cucumber and seaweed production that will benefit both marine ecosystems and local communities,” USAID Mission Director John Dunlop said at the launch. “This approach is expected to reduce poverty while preserving natural resources and improving the health of marine ecosystems as part of a stronger, more resilient aquaculture sector in Madagascar.”
Nosy Manga is a Health, Ecosystems and Agriculture for Resilient, Thriving Societies (HEARTH) Global Development Alliance initiative where USAID and the private sector work together to identify and solve development challenges through mutually beneficial partnerships.
Nosy Manga focuses on conserving marine biodiversity while sustainably managing marine resources – specifically sea cucumber and seaweed – to benefit local communities. This market-based approach is then scaled up locally for maximum impact by providing communities with new income generating opportunities and supporting locally-based resource management.
Madagascar’s vast marine territory, including 5,600 kilometers of coastline and an Exclusive Economic Zone, has the highest level of coral diversity in the Western Indian Ocean. The fishing sector is a leading source of income for local communities and the country.
In 2018, 1.5 million Malagasies worked in the fishing sector, generating about 7 percent of the national gross domestic product. As demands for these marine and coastal resources increase, however, their ecosystems have become increasingly threatened by overfishing and harmful fishing practices that have contributed to a decline in marine species and fish stocks.
In this context, commercial farming of seaweed and sea cucumber can be a game-changer for coastal communities, providing new sources of income to complement traditional fishing without damaging natural resources.
The U.S. government recognizes the global significance of Madagascar’s unparalleled biodiversity as well as the critical role natural resources play in the nation’s economic and human development.
USAID has co-financed three HEARTH alliances in the last year, resulting in $20.5 million of aggregate investment in innovative and sustainable solutions to development challenges in Madagascar.
Since 2013, the U.S. government has committed more than $60 million in programs that promote sustainability, improve livelihoods for local communities, bolster governance of natural resources, strengthen actions to stop international wildlife trafficking, and protect thousands of hectares from illegal and unsustainable exploitation.