Fish Farming in Madagascar: The Power of a Digital Marketplace

Connecting fish producers and buyers for a thriving aquaculture sector in rural Madagascar

The Added Value of This Article

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Value add for readers

  • The case study of the digital marketplace in Madagascar offers insights into leveraging technology to enhance connectivity and improve access to markets in remote, rural areas, benefiting international development practitioners seeking innovative solutions.
  • The successful utilization of the 3-2-1 hotline and digital marketplace demonstrates the potential for technology-driven initiatives to strengthen value chains, generate secure income, and promote sustainable aquaculture practices, possibly inspiring development cooperation efforts.
As one part of the evaluation of the hotline 3-2-1,
fish farmer met up for focus group discussions in the districts ⎮ Photo: Linda Weber © GIZ 

In order to enhance access to vital information for fish farmers in remote, rural areas, the Sustainable Aquaculture in Madagascar project has partnered with the information hotline 3-2-1.  The hotline uses automatic voice messages to disseminate valuable information concerning fish farming, including weather forecasts and financing mechanisms for aquaculture products.

Introducing the Digital Marketplace

As a recent addition to the 3-2-1 hotline, the Sustainable Aquaculture in Madagascar project has developed a digital marketplace to bridge the gap between fish producers and buyers. Fish producers can call the hotline to indicate the species and quantity of fish they have available, while buyers can call the same hotline to express their interest in purchasing fish.

All this information is collected on a digital platform, and an algorithm matches potential buyers and producers, sending SMS notifications to both parties. Subsequently, the buyer and producer must contact each other to arrange the sale, determine the selling price, and establish a meeting location.

The ultimate goal of the digital marketplace is to foster closer networking among actors in the value chain, generate a secure income, and serve as a catalyst for scaling up fish farmers’ production.

Creating Awareness for the Hotline Services

In December 2022, the project initiated an awareness-raising campaign to promote the hotline services. The campaign made use of various media, including radio spots, SMS, posters, and flyers.

Over 1,100 posters and 1,000 flyers were distributed across the project’s intervention zones, while radio spots were broadcast in the evenings on nine popular regional radio channels. Additionally, 180,000 SMS messages were sent out to targeted recipients.

Digital marketplace for fish in Madagascar
Poster informing on the hotline 3-2-1 hanging on a farmer’s house in rural Madagascar
© Julien Sadousty, APDRA 

Positive Feedback and Evaluation

A recent qualitative evaluation involving 230 fish farmers revealed that the weather forecast in particular garners great interest, followed by the digital marketplace, seasonal diseases, and financing mechanisms. The easily comprehensible radio spots were well received and listened to multiple times.

The participating farmers emphasized that the detailed information provided on the flyers and posters complemented the audio campaign. They also stressed the importance of conducting further on-the-ground sensitization efforts to encourage broader adoption of the 3-2-1 hotline, especially regarding the digital marketplace.

Quantitative Assessment of the Digital Marketplace

An additional quantitative assessment, involving 300 participants, shed light on the utilization of the digital marketplace. The response indicated that over 65% of users successfully sold or purchased fish through the 3-2-1 hotline. The potential benefits of the digital marketplace include facilitating the discovery of new market actors in different locations, enabling direct transactions without intermediaries, and facilitating the sale or purchase of large quantities of fish.

However, challenges such as poor network coverage in rural Madagascar, the costs imposed by certain phone providers, and the seasonality of fish production in certain regions were also identified. The farmers participating in the survey also expressed concerns about potential fraudulent activities through phone-based transactions.

The Potential in Madagascar’s Aquaculture Sector

The innovative application of technology in rural regions has proven to be a promising opportunity to strengthen Madagascar’s small-scale aquaculture sector. In particular, the digital marketplace has the potential to enhance connectivity within the value chain. By further raising awareness and fostering trust in the 3-2-1 hotline, the digital marketplace can potentially provide even greater benefits to the fish farming community.


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