Africa discovers its very own caviar in Madagascar - GulfToday

Africa discovers its very own caviar in Madagascar

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A worker packs the caviar extracted from a sturgeon in a metal box.

Africa's first and only source of caviar has been discovered in Madagascar. The island renowned for its exquisite wildlife and production of vanilla is now going to have another feather to its cap.

This luxury food is going to bring the cream of the world`s top people to visit the island.

"A lot of people laughed at us admitting that the enterprise was a big gamble.

The business is an unlikely project in a country beset by grinding poverty, but its owners are determined that luxury foods can play a part in improving Madagascar's economy.

"But we took the time to prove that this is serious. Madagascar caviar is now the only caviar produced in Africa and the Indian Ocean."

Learning skills

"At the time, our business in luxury ready-to-wear clothes had become sustainable, and we were seeking to diversify our activities," Dabezies said.

"We are all gourmands, so this idea served our purposes.

"Madagascar has an exceptional environment that produces rare crops such as cocoa, vanilla, organic shrimp and lychees -- we thought we could add caviar."

The sturgeon that produce unfertilised caviar roe are kept in Lake Mantasoa, perched at an altitude of 1,400 metres (46,000 feet) east of the capital Antananarivo.

Training the staff has been a major part of the project.

Colour, taste and smell

The process demands patience and skill.

The first imported eggs arrived in Mantasoa in 2013, and the first grams of caviar did not go on sale until June 26, 2017, Madagascar's independence day.

The quality of the harvest depends on the dexterity of one man, 23-year-old Gaston Soavan'i Thomas.

Knife in hand, Thomas has no margin for error as he extracts eggs from the entrails of each sturgeon.

"At first, I was afraid to destroy or contaminate the eggs, but now everything comes automatically," he said.

The eggs are kept in a refrigerated room at 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).

Among those impressed is prominent Madagascan chef Lalaina Ravelomanana.

"I prefer to serve it in its natural state, with salmon or oysters on ice," he says.

Agence France-Presse