SAVE FOOD: Initiative mondiale de réduction des pertes et du gaspillage alimentaires

Reducing post-harvest losses in the mud crab value chain in Madagascar through simple innovation

Rehabilitated market in Morondava ©FAO/Wallemacq Florence
09 Jan 2015

The mud crab fishery in Madagascar is an exclusively traditional/artisanal fishing activity, composed of on-foot or pirogue fishers using very simple fishing techniques and gears, such as hand lines or hooks mounted on sticks. This is mainly due to the fact that mangrove forests, the natural habitat of the Scylla serrata crab, are often in remote and difficult to access areas

In Madagascar, the average crab mortality cumulative rate is 32% and can increase until 40-50 during the rainy season. Post-harvest losses are estimated to be 4 500 000 euros by year.

The main causes of post-harvest losses are compression, choking, dehydration, starvation or bacterial contamination due to the presence of dead crabs. In most cases, losses are due to poor handling practices on the part of collectors.

To tackle this issue, in collaboration with SmartFish programme, the Ministry of Fisheries targeted the objective for 2015 to reduce the losses by one third. By the end of 2017, it is aimed to reach a mortality rate that is less than 10%.

SmartFish and MRHP committed to demonstrate to the communities how to achieve these goals.

In 2013, several innovations and low-cost technical improvements have been tested. The most effective, economically viable and socially accepted ones have been selected to constitute the pillar of a large field sensitization campaign.

The interventions consist of a combination of awareness raising activities and direct on-the-job capacity building of mud crab fishers, collectors and other operators through the promotion of improved, but simple, crab catching techniques, storage and transport equipment. The campaign started in 2014 and will continue in 2015: this includes diffusion of technical manual and other descriptive tools (posters, comic strip, tablemat, kanga, etc.), demonstration workshops and mobile demonstration campaign in remote areas.

To increase their visibility and adoption rate, innovations and equipment promoted have already been presented at the occasion of the first Fishers’ Fair of the Menabe region, organized by SmartFish in collaboration with WWF and the Ministry of Fisheries.

Back to back, a competition for postharvest loss reduction innovations has been launched to create an incentive among communities.

The planned monitoring of the activities is using the PHLA method as imparted by SmartFish at the beginning of this initiative. To date, the last PHL assessment recorded, in most pilot project sites, a reduction of mortality rates from 22% (pre-project status) to an average of 17% within .12 months, hence very close to the target set. Moreover, some collectors who fully adopted the innovations have recorded losses below 15% meaning that, in some cases, the project exceeded the target reduction in PHL.

During the coming months, the mobile demonstration campaign is going to take place to reach remote fishing communities. The comic strip, training video and radio programme are currently being developed. Stay tuned… 


Davide Signa, FAO Food Security Expert, SmartFish programme

Florence Wallemacq, FAO Outreach Consultant, SmartFish programme

Yann Yvergniaux, Socio-Economist, SmartFish programme