Of exceptional fertility with its thousands of hectares of alluvial deposits called ‘baiboho’ by the local population, the district of Ambato Boeny has always been a crown of agricultural production for the region. The Black eyes has the odds
After the prodigious period of cotton and tomato production, peasants in the riding turned to the cultivation of black eyes or ‘lojy mitsangana’, which became the flagship product of the region. It is from 2007 that the sector began to attract producers as new buyers landed in the country, making the black eyes market more competitive. In 2011, 17,000 tons of black eyes were exported from the port of Majunga.
The big fair ‘lojy mitsangana’ has just been held three days in a row at the Gabriel Razafintsalama stadium of Ambato Boeny, on 29 July last, under the joint impetus of the Support Program for Rural Microenterprises and Economies (Prosperer), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mahajanga and the Boeny region.
The revival of the agricultural economy by promoting this product explains the enthusiasm of the technical partners in revitalizing the sector, according to the revelations of the regional coordinator of Prosperer Boeny, Paulin, during his intervention in one of the conferences-debates organized during the first edition of the great fair ‘lojy mitsanga’. Technical estimates put production at twice the level of the previous year for this 2016 season, with at least 540 tonnes of offers to be presented on the market.
Contradictions on the development approach of the sector
However, this expansion of the sector is hampered by problems relating to the sale of the product, which could demotivate the farmers who invest in it. The sale of black eyes generates financial losses due to the fall of the local market during this 2016 campaign in addition to the increase in processing costs that have repercussions on the production price.
Speaking for farmers, Mayor Valérien Rakotonandrasana has begun discussions on the Boeny region’s actions on the black eyes trade. He denounced the negative impact of the regional decree ordering the issuance of authorization to collect this product to the authorities of the region only by revealing attempts of rackets revealed by operators, obliged to withdraw later. Surveys conducted by the urban municipality of Ambato Boeny have failed, so he lamented, despite memoranda of understanding with foreign investors willing to acquire the product at a high price of up to 2,000 ariary by kilogram.
The chief of the Boeny region, Saïd Ahamad Jaffar, explained his initiative by the predominant position that black eyes occupies on the economic chessboard of his constituency. ‘It is my duty to regulate the entire sector by promulgating a regional decree and put in place a consultation platform on this product’, according to its statements to enlighten the public opinion who attended the conference-debate at the tranompokonolona d ‘Ambato Boeny after the opening ceremony of the great fair’ lojy mitsangana ‘.
Support from the Chamber of Commerce and the Prosperer
The cultivation of ‘lojy’ is widespread in the former province of Mahajanga but the ‘black eyes’ type makes the specificity of the district of Ambato Boeny.
Statistics from the Prosperer program show a gradual improvement in the production rate to 2.5 tonnes per hectare at present. The majority of farmers in the district, who invested in cotton and tomato crops in the past, have converted to this new sector in substitution for their sources of income. The vein is also well following the consistent support and framing of Prosperer Boeny and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mahajanga.
A product warehouse has been inaugurated as the fokontany of Ankaraobato in the urban commune of Ambato Boeny to support the dynamism of the members of the cooperative Tamia from the resort. The establishment of such infrastructures at the level of producers is of great importance, according to the national coordinator of the project, to strengthen their negotiating strength vis-à-vis operators. The aim of the initiative is to give farmers the power to regulate the market themselves to take advantage of it, he stressed. The Prosperer program also provided the Ankaraobato cooperative with agricultural machinery during the official opening of the lojy mitsangana regional fair to make their efforts more profitable.
The parameters are thus combined to make this leading product of the Boeny region a vector of development by improving the incomes of the rural people who expect much from the interventions of the authorities to stabilize the course of the black eyes following the public debate on this theme at Ambato Boeny.