Developing a National Organic Standard for Agriculture in Madagascar

Madagascar is the fifth-largest island in the world and one of the 17 richest countries in biodiversity, as identified by Conservation International. Its diverse climatic regions and geographical isolation have made it the perfect home for some of the world’s most unique flora and fauna.

Agriculture provides the main source of income for most of the people who live there. In 2018, roughly 65% of the population worked in the agricultural sector, which accounted for 22% of the country’s GDP. However, the sector faces significant challenges—ranging from high deforestation rates to fragmented value chains­—which threaten the sustainability of both livelihoods and ecosystems.

To address these challenges, Madagascar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries invited us to conduct a study to identify the risks and opportunities associated with the development of a national standard for organic agriculture and organic labelling. Organic certification sets criteria that producers are required to comply with to become more sustainable, such as improving soil fertility, preventing deforestation, and building resilience to climate change.

Our work identified several risks and opportunities that could arise from establishing an organic standard and implementing a national organic agriculture strategy and proposed a series of recommendations to address them. The recommendations were grouped under the following four themes: enhancing producer capacity; supporting education, research, and development; building regulation and institutional capacity; and encouraging market development and promotion. The Government of Madagascar included a number of our recommendations in their national strategy for organic agriculture.