In March, five students from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth came to Madagascar to work alongside Blue Ventures’ community-based aquaculture project as part of their First Year Project. These highly experienced business students came to Madagascar, and got to know the project from the inside out, through site visits, sea cucumber night monitoring, meetings with all relevant business partners, and detailed Q&A sessions about everything from supply chains to budgets to farmer association structure. Now, the students are back in the U.S. working on a business plan for the project, while keeping in close contact with us here in Madagascar. Read the students’ accounts of their trip, or read the original posts here, here and here.

By Avanti Maluste, Tuck 2014

Visiting the Sea Cucumber farm

Visiting the Sea Cucumber farm

We hit the ground running with Blue Ventures! Our first activity was a visit to Sarodrano, about 1.5hrs away from Blue Ventures’ headquarters in Toliara.  Sarodrano is one of three villages Blue Ventures works with to grow and harvest sea cucumbers and seaweed.  In the afternoon, we walked out about 600 meters off the beach coast to the sea cucumber pens (through beautifully clear and warm water) and then another 500 meters or so to the seaweed farms. We got to see first-hand the setup in place and ask on-the-spot questions about the supply chain details. After an amazing lunch of fresh fish, we conducted interviews with the 8 teams in Sarodrano involved with Blue Ventures.  It was a great opportunity to get primary data on some of the key questions Blue Ventures wants to answer.

But we weren’t done yet! The sea cucumbers should be harvested during the low tide – right now, that means 1:30 AM harvest time! We headed out with headlamps under the most incredible starry night any of us have ever seen. Team BV participated in the harvest of 513 market-size cucumbers (each greater than 350 grams), with a value of 1.5M AR (700 USD) After being out until about 3AM, we got up at 6AM to head out to the Indian Ocean Trepang (for-profit partner of Blue Ventures) sea cucumber nurseries and their under-construction hatchery. This afternoon, we will head out to IOT’s current hatchery, as well as see the seaweed storage facility.

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We regularly invite guest authors, including expedition volunteers, independent researchers, medical elective students and former staff to contribute to the Beyond Conservation blog.

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