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In Madagascar, the main crop is irrigated rice grown in many low-lying areas. This agricultural practice creates a strong dependence on access to water. The presence of these many irrigated areas has led farmers to practice rice and fish farming for centuries. In the face of climate change, water management is a major challenge. Indeed, rice fish farming requires that there be a sufficient blade of water in the rice fields to allow the carp to grow. In addition, fry production and fish grow-out were always considered as two distinct parts of the production chain. Producers in remote areas, who did not have easy access to fry, could not set up rice and fish farming.

Since the 2000s, fry production in rice fields has in turn increased in landlocked areas. These smaller fry production units are called peasant hatcheries. These peasant practices of carp reproduction within the rice fields do not require inputs and ensure the autonomy of each individual for the supply of fry. This agro-ecological practice provides several agronomic benefits: fish fertilize the soil with excreta and rid the water of parasites, while the refuge pond allows fish access to food when the water level drops and facilitates their fishing.

In the village of Betafo in 2004, APDRA (Association Pisciculture et Développement Rural en Afrique) met fish farmers who had developed rice and carp fish farming according to this different and innovative breeding system, in an area with a well-developed water network. This action has enabled APDRA to fully understand the dynamics of fish farming in the Highlands and to promote this technique on a larger scale. Today, APDRA works with 1600 carp growers in rice fields and has created a network of more than 700 farmer hatcheries.


Region of the world
Sub-Saharan Africa
Society challenge
Water availability and sharing
Field target
Agricultural field
Communal development
Training for alternative agriculture
Agro-ecological systems
Betafo, Madagascar
Julie Mandresilahatra
Manager of the A component from Madagascar sustainable aquaculture project
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