The Lake Alaotra region is of agro-economic importance for Madagascar; Alaotra is known as the “rice bowl of Madagascar” producing one-third of the national rice output. The lake outputs around 2,000 tons of fish per year, representing the biggest freshwater fisheries in Madagascar. Currently, there are about 12,000 registered fishermen in the region.
As a consequence of mainly economic migration, Alaotra’s population has increased to over 700,000 within less than 50 years, significantly increasing pressures on the lake-marshland system.
The primary source of income is rice cultivation and fishing, but the yields of rice fields have been greatly reduced in recent years, increasing the pressure on fisheries and surrounding areas of rice production. Many rice cultivators are unemployed due to this reduction in rice production caused by increased erosion, and less rain, or late rain, which reduces the numbers of cultivations per season from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1. To compensate for a decline in production, in addition to fishing, many people are forced to switch to other activities, such as charcoal production or hunting.