UNIMA Group and WWF Madagascar join forces to promote best practices in the private sector
Richard Hughes (WWF) and Amyne H. Ismail (UNIMA) signing a new partnership agreement, 25.11.2011, Antananarivo, Madagascar
This partnership, fruit of a common vision between the two entities, wants to promote a sustainable development within the private sector in Madagascar that benefits the communities as well as species and landscapes.
UNIMA Group, a world renowned pioneer in the aquaculture industry in Madagascar, has developed a set of best management practices to support local communities and improve environmental protection. They meet and often surpass Madagascar’s environmental protection standards and are the only shrimp production company so far having obtained the “Label Rouge”, a French label for outstanding quality.
UNIMA has also played a crucial role in helping establish the shrimp fishing association and good environmental management on their sites. Their leadership in terms of market transformational change make them an ideal partner for WWF Madagascar. The agreement signed today follows and reinforces a partnership already established in 2007.
UNIMA has opted for low density farming with 5 to 10 shrimp per square meter, instead of intensive farming with over 100 shrimp/m2, a model that is common in many Asian countries. The farm is spread over 700 hectares of natural clay soil and produces over 2,500 tons of shrimp annually.
Apart from their core business, UNIMA has built schools on all of their four production sites. Well-equipped health clinics were also constructed and are open to everyone. For the symbolic price of 0.50 Euro, a whole family can get treatment and medicine for a whole year. A community library, laundry facilities and police stations complete the array of investments made in the surrounding villages.
By replanting 45 hectares of formerly depleted land with fast growing tree species, people in the villages can benefit from a renewable cooking energy source as an alternative that will help protect the unique natural dry forests and mangroves.
WWF working with private sector for a sustainable development
WWF has been present in Madagascar for 48 years. It prioritizes the preservation of biodiversity across priority landscapes and seascapes. The mangrove forests in Madagascar’s west are one of these priority seascapes and the Madagascar fish eagle, one of WWF Madagascar’s flag ship species, can be found on the UNIMA sites.
WWF also strives to integrate environmental issues into sectoral policies in Madagascar. This involves the promotion of policies that integrate environmentally sound business and social practices within industries - in this case, the aquaculture industry - to promote environmentally sustainable business practices alongside social gains for the local population.
In 2009, WWF has developed a Biodiversity Action Plan assessing all the unique species and extraordinary ecosystems that can be found on the UNIMA sites and specifying what actions need to be taken to protect them.
“WWF Madagascar has found in UNIMA the ideal partner to promote best practices that are socially acceptable and in favor of biodiversity conservation all while being economically viable” says Martin Nicoll, WWF’s Senior Conservation Advisor in Madagascar. “Many companies think it costs a lot to be good guys. We want to prove the contrary!”
Indeed, UNIMA benefits from its social and environmental engagement. Intact ecosystems are crucial for the production of their high quality shrimps. Clear water is a must for growing the shrimp post-larvae. Intact forests protect the sites against external contamination of every kind. Healthy labor forces are performing well and turnover is low. And the product itself sells well. A kilo of shrimps is being sold for over 30 Euro on European markets.
By signing a mutual agreement to promote a model for sustainable development, both partners commit to further work together to integrate best practices the in private sector. The implementation of WWF’s Biodiversity Action Plan on and around UNIMA’s production sites is one of the first common priorities.
Others include the development of a “carbon footprint” action plan to improve UNIMA’s carbon balance from currently 78% to 100% emission compensation. This should be achieved through the creation of a protected area in the vast mangrove forests of the Mahajamba Bay.