Development and Protection of the Lac Alaotra Catchment Area

Detailed description of project:

The Lake Alaotra Basin is one of Madagascar’s largest rice growing areas with an average annual production of 200,000 tonnes by approx. 80,000 ha. However, despite its relatively high agricultural potential, the region is facing some major constraints:

  • Erosion: since the basin is fully under agri­cultural production, farmers have started to cultivate the surrounding hills. Inappropriate farming methods and grazing on fragile soils further increase erosion, which is already marked by spectacular gullies (« lavakas ») of geological origin;
  • Stagnation of agricultural production due to deficiencies in agricultural inputs (seeds, mechanisation, capital), insecure land tenure and insufficient marketing (non-organised producers, lack of communication means);
  • Operation and maintenance costs for hydraulic infrastructure: after the retreat of the State, farmers have organised themselves to ensure operation and maintenance of the perimeters, but are not yet in a position to fully cover additional investments in irrigation infra­structure.

The project, which covers three pilot areas on either side of the Lake Alaotra Basin, aims at the following three objectives:

  • Increase and secure the revenues of agricultural producers particularly struck by unfavourable climatic and economic condition;
  • Protect natural resources in an extremely sensitive ecologic area and ensure downstream irrigation investments;
  • Support local farmer organisations and encourage them to turn own ideas into initiatives.



Type of services provided:

The Project Management Unit coordinates the implementation of all activities carried out by local consultants and contractors, i.e.:

  • Land use planning and legalisation of land titles;
  • Protection of eco-systems, afforestation, erosion and bush fire control;
  • Applied research in conservation agriculture (grains, legumes and fodder) and seed testing of new varieties;
  • Linking development projects, farmer associations, local universities and research institutions;
  • Introduction of conservation agriculture (e.g. no tillage systems, green manure application, improved seeds and fodder for cattle);
  • Livestock development and pasture management;
  • Construction of rural roads (30 km);
  • Irrigation;
  • Rural credit schemes, in accordance with the micro-finance network already existing;
  • Provision of training and agricultural extension services to farmer organisations to achieve organisational and financial autonomy.
Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
02/2003 – 06/2013
Contract value: 1,425,000 €