Tuesday, June 2, 2015

02/06/2015: Rice-fish farming: a lever for the development of family farming in Madagascar

On the Hauts Plateaux of Madagascar, rice is a major food crop production system practiced by family farms.

One practice relatively unknown in the regions concerned, but with great potential, is rizipisculture, or rice-fish farming. This farming system involves introducing young fish into paddy fields to grow along with the rice.

The most cultured fish in the Highlands is the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) © FAO
Rizipisculture can play a leading role in strengthening the food security of rural populations in the Highlands. The technique requires little investment and affords farmers real potential for restoring soil fertility and access to animal protein.

The integration and complementarity between rice and fish optimises resources (land, water in existing rice fields) and available facilities to increase rice yields by 10 to 30 percent and produce fish protein with an average yield of 205 kg/ha,  without exerting additional pressure on the environment.

The long-term diffusion potential is important because it concerns hundreds of thousands of families in areas suitable for rice-fish culture: High Matsiatra, Amoron'i Mania, Vakinankaratra, Itasy and the Analamanga. 


The Indian Ocean Commission's SmartFish program, through its food security component implemented by the FAO, supports the NGO APDRA's 'Pisciculture paysanne' ('Rural pisciculture') awareness program, which teaches people in countryside areas about rice-fish farming.

This innovative program aims to teach and disseminate rizipisculture, through training and awareness of rural youth in schools before most of them enter the world of work.

The program responds to the FAO's third strategic objective: "reduce rural poverty" because it aims to improve the income of agricultural enterprises and food availability for the population.

A pilot phase has been launched to develop educational training materials and the establishment of educational partnerships in three regions: Vakinankaratra, Haute Matsiatra and Itasy. This involves the training of 5000 students.

The identification of schools was conducted with Regional Departments of Education according to various criteria: proximity of fry producers to educational institutions (for each selected establishment, pupils' parents will have the opportunity to buy fry from at least four or five producers) and involvement of principals and their team of teachers. The motivation of institutions is mainly that they get to improve their syllabus.

The challenges of schooling in rural areas

  • Many rural young people leave school without professional training
  • Attrition affects 50 percent of students between 6th (12-13 years) and 3rd (15 and over).   
  • The willingness of the Ministry of Education to orient curricula towards more practical learning
  • The importance of school dropout phenomenon in these rural areas
A training session was organized in all three areas of intervention by the teams of APDRA, attended by the Regional Directorates of Education and Regional Departments of Marine Resources and Fisheries, the Directorate of Aquaculture of the Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries, as well as various regional and national media.


The main teaching materials developed at this stage are a comic and poster for classes. The interest in drawings as motivational and training tools is great. Indeed, drawing and illustrations allow students to visualise and fully absorb what they are being taught. Moreover, once these learning aids have been developed, the limited cost of reproduction will ensure their use even after the support of SmartFish has been withdrawn.

Regarding the interest of schools and institutional partners, this first implementation phase was greeted in a remarkable spirit of collaboration.

Despite their limited resources, institutions have shown a high reactivity, an interesting professionalism and amazing technical appropriation. Training modules have been integrated into extracurricular activities organised every Wednesday afternoon.

The support of the FAO, through the SmartFish program, will continue through a second phase of the rice-fish farming project. This next phase will cover 100 rural schools located near fry producers and will see the implementation of training activities of students by teachers and an assessment of the social and production dynamics that result.
© APDRA Pisciculture paysanne

Visit the FAO fisheries page HERE.

Visit the Indian Ocean Commission site HERE.

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