Research Travel Program: Blue Ventures FYP, Madagascar - Wrapping Up

Posted on Thu, March 28, 2013 by Carole Gaudet.

Hurdles of Data Collection - And a Little Time in the Sun

After a great beach resort weekend (hey, it is spring break!), Team BV was hard at work on Monday, making the most of our last few full days at the client site. On Monday, we met with the technician for Sarodrano to walk through his data collection gathering and aggregation process. Not surprisingly, given the villages served, this data is collected manually, inputted manually, and aggregated manually. This is a major concern for Blue Ventures as they plan on scaling the existing number of farmers as well as transfer responsibility of record keeping to the farmers and the IOT (Indian Ocean Trepang, for-profit partner).

In the afternoon, we talked with Shawn Peabody, Blue Ventures’s country director for Madagascar. We discussed Blue Venture’s role from a high level, making sure to understand the big picture of how this particular project fits into the mission.

Today, we met with the for-profit stakeholder in Blue Ventures’s supply chain: CoperFrito and their subsidiary, IOT. Blue Ventures currently serves as an intermediary for both seaweed and sea cucumber farming and their goal over the next three years is to transition existing farms to CoperFrito and IOT for those products respectively. From CoperFrito, we met with Ben Pascal and learned about this experience with transitioning villages from an NGO partner; it was critical to hear about the challenges they faced during that time, and how they think about their data collection. From IOT, we met with Olivier Avalle to learn about how they are thinking about this transition – a real challenge given the dramatic increase in capacity (from 80k to 5M in a few years) and their lack of history with this kind of removal of the NGO from this process.

Tomorrow, we will meet with some of the local and regional microfinance institutions to learn about their role and their expectations for this transition. It will be our last full day in Tulear!