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Markets in Madagascar

Local markets: scenes of Malagasy identity

In Malagasy history and culture, the market is associated with the concept of space and time. In the time of the Madagascar kingdoms markets were created by associating a day of the week with a particular place.

Analakely | Office Régional du Tourisme à AntananarivoEverywhere in Madagascar, markets are named after the days of the week, although today they sometimes take place two days or even every day.

In the past, the market (tsena) was called fihaonana (meeting place) because it was an opportunity to meet people, discuss, make business alliances, exchange news and also find one's life partners....

For those who travel in Madagascar, the local markets are a must the essence of the relationships take place there. In rural areas, residents often walk half the night and would not want to miss the weekly market in any case.

The Zoma market in Antananarivo, past and present

Today exists only a small part of the Zoma Market (Friday), but when he still existed, he took the Madagascar Destination - Marché Zomaentire Avenue de l'Indépendance (Antananarivo), from the Soarano Station to Andohan'Analakely. You can still find merchants spreading some wares on the sidewalks, but before 1997 it was the largest open-air market in the world, stretching for about a kilometer.

No traffic was possible because the stalls (with the famous homemade white umbrellas) occupied the streets.

However, since the avenue is the nerve center of the city, they could no longer afford to block this central artery.

Moreover, there was unrest and uncertainty there!

Nowadays there are still the pavilions and the fruit and vegetable stands. Stores and businesses of all kinds have also flourished there!

The Mahamasina market and its secondhand sellers

The most famous Thursday market is that of Mahamasina in Antananarivo, near the Municipal Stadium.

Popular and colorful, this is where residents dress, motorcycle riders can find leather jackets, work clothes and everything that ends up in the clothing garbage cans in Europe, America and Asia is recycled here.

It is the second-hand clothes that make the reputation of the market.

It is the place where the inhabitants of the capital Antananarivo go to buy clothes, shoes, bags, household linen, fabrics, mattresses, kitchen utensils, furniture, telephones, fruits and vegetables, etc.

Here, part of the roads are blocked, but traffic is not completely disrupted.

Except that now vendors are encroaching on sidewalks, bus shelters and even part of the roadway. More and more small traders join and expand the market on the streets after Anosy and Ambohijanahary.

The largest zebu market in Madagascar

The most famous Wednesday market is that of Ambalavao, a Zebu Market, the most important of the whole Big Island. The 480 km south of the capital and about 57 km south of Fianarantsoa situated place hosts humpback cattle on 2 hectares.

AmbalavaoIt is impressive to see!

Buyers examine the animals before haggling with the owners, who are usually dressed in lamba (large traditional fabrics).

Here the zebu is a sacred animal and very useful in daily life, pulling carts for transportation and plows in the rice fields and fields.

The graves are decorated with zebra skulls, the number of which shows the wealth of the deceased.

The market of Talata, Koba and sausage market

The best way to visit the market of Talata would be to visit it on a Tuesday, during the visit of the nearby Rova (palace) of Ambohimanga, one of the twelve sacred hills, to include. In fact lies the rural community Talata-Volonondry (where the Tsena is located) on RN 3, north of Antananarivo, on the road leading to the sacred hills: Ilafy, Namehana (Sabotsy-Namehana), Ambohimanga or Ambohidrabiby.

One appreciates the wooded sites along the road not to get impatient at the idea of eating the famous koba (rice cake with caramelized peanuts) or the sausages for which Talata-Volonondry is famous.

For others, the market provides a source of fresh agricultural products.

The market of Sabotsy, the Zoma of Antsirabe

Vakinankaratra is known as the breadbasket and vegetable growing region of the country, as the volcanic land is particularly arable and vast.

Au marché de " Sabotsy . | "MADAGASCAR ET LES "GASY".Agricultural products from this region are sold at the Sabotsy Market (Saturday) in the Antsirabe city sold

In the 90s, the market covered about ten hectares, consisting of stalls with a small chair, wooden tables and handmade umbrellas.

Today the market has been cemented and concreted on 4.5 hectares of land.

It is the largest market in the Indian Ocean, with the fruit and vegetable shed alone covering 1,500 m².

The stalls offer a magnificent kaleidoscope of colors: oranges, watermelons, mangoes, lychees, jujube, cinnamon apples... Of course, many other products are sold here, from seafood to clothing and handicrafts.

The breakdown of goods using the example of Antsena Sabotsy in Antsirabe.

Flowers and plants area

Colorful cut flowers are offered in this section, the choice is very diverse and seasonal Le grand marché d'Antsirabe : Sabotsy ou "Antsena Sabotsy"conditional.

Ornamental plants such as orchids, shrubs and even fruit trees are also available for purchase.

Dried fish area

This area is very extreme olfactory challenge, huge mountains of dried fish, shrimp, crabs and all kinds of marine animals are offered there.

Vegetables and fruits

Also here the offer is enormous, also here mountains of fruits are offered after the different harvests, a single salesman can offer several tons of fruits or vegetables. The same fruits are mostly offered in the same area of the huge market.

Les marchés locaux : scènes de l'identité malgache - Détours ...In the fruits & vegetables section, seeds and spices are also sold, there are also vegetables that are sold chopped, green beans are cut lengthwise with a razor blade, carrots and other soup vegetables are offered cut into cubes.

Peas and Bambara peas are sold without pods.

Somewhat off to the side, there is an area for fruits that are overripe or partially rotten, due to the huge supply and little processing of the fruits, of course, a lot of fruits and vegetables are lost.

Meat range

Here there are traders who sell zebu beef, others specialize in pork or poultry.

Antsirabé | À la découverte de MadagascarThat there is no refrigeration, all try to sell the meat offered on the same day.

But there are also sellers of all kinds of waste: skins, skulls, hooves and spoiled meat that is always offered separately.

The Madagascan pharmacy

This area is also always present in the small markets in the villages.

It consists largely of fresh or dried medicinal plants, stones, amulets, tinctures of all kinds.

People often do not have money to buy medicines and everywhere there are natural remedies and people who can use them.

Forged articles

In this section are offered spades forged from old car springs but there is everything you can Le grand marché d'Antsirabe : Sabotsy ou "Antsena Sabotsy"can forge or craft from scrap metal: Oil lamps, rat traps, iron chains, shovels, axes, ovens, watering cans and much more.

Furniture market

Cheap furniture of all kinds is offered here, mostly chairs nailed together from thin pine wood, tables, cupboards and beds. Mattresses filled with grass, then comes a section for woven baskets and natties....

Live animals

Here you can buy poultry, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.


After that comes a huge area whose goods come from the old clothes collections in Europe, the USA, Australia or China.

La friperie | Le Relais MadagascarThese arrive in bales in Africa and are sold everywhere, since there are almost no stores that sell new clothes, the old clothes area is very popular and very well attended.

And today, as household consumption in Madagascar is steadily increasing, the general public is turning to the offerings at the markets, even some public figures are finding pleasure there.

While used clothing used to be perceived as second choice products, the concept has completely changed today.

Even before the Covid 19 crisis, habits have adapted to social media and many merchants sell some of the goods on the Internet, there are also more and more women who buy beautiful clothes and then offer them on Facebook.

Anyway, over 80% of the population buy their clothes only at markets.

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After 10 months of total inactivity, self-employed people in the tourism industry in Madagascar are completely without income. There is no opening of the borders in sight in Madagascar and we are at the beginning of the rainy season, which is the low season, even in normal times. I have started a fundraiser for the guides and drivers I know well. From this money we will buy rice and other essentials and distribute them regularly, if possible, until the resumption of travel activities in April 2021 at the earliest. My special thanks to those who have already donated. I will start buying rice tomorrow and will begin distributing it this week.
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Thank you for thinking about donating to the poorest. Maybe you will come back here again.

I guarantee you that all donations to 100% will reach the people. Kind regards Klaus

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