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Cucumber, from the sea

Wiebke Feuersenger
July 3, 2018

Greenhouses are not the only place that cucumbers grow. The waters around Madagascar have proved fertile ground for the ocean variety.

Man holding a sea cucumber
Image: DW/J.Pasotti

Aquaculture saving the economy in Madagascar

Project description: Blue Ventures is working with coastal communities in Madagascar to develop sustainable sources of income 

Project size: 700 people have been trained to farm cucumbers

Project yield: 23,750 sea cucumbers have been harvested so far

Project members: More than 50 percent of farm leaders and farmers are women

Around ten years ago, the waters around Madagascar's Bay of Assassins were a sorry sight. Overfishing and pollution had taken such a toll on marine life that local fishing communities were struggling to make a living. Enter the British nongovernmental organization Blue Ventures — it had big ideas for the humble sea cucumber.

Sold dried as a delicacy in China, these seabed "vacuum cleaners" have a global market value of some €860 per kilogram ($450 per pound). Thousands have been bred and sold near the village of Tampolove, which has eased the pressure on other marine species. Contributing to the project's success is how everyone involved gets to have a say.

Ein Film von Wiebke Feuersenger