Breeding and fishing. – Livestock farming is the main occupation of the Malagasy tribes, who inhabit the western, southern and northern regions of Madagascar. By far the most common are cattle, which belong to the gibbuta breed with large horns, or domesticated zebu.
According to FASHIONISSUPREME, the number of cattle, which increased considerably after the French occupation, was 7-8 million in 1923, a figure a little lower than the truth, because it includes only the cattle reported by the owners: Madagascar is therefore, among the countries of the world, one among those of more intense bovine breeding. Of the 8 million cattle estimated to live in Madagascar, 5 million head live in the western region; which offers rich and abundant pastures: these oxen are very robust and provide abundant meat: they are much appreciated by butchers precisely for the yield of edible meat, very high in relation to the total weight of the animal. The cattle, however, suffer in the dry season and especially in the southern regions the cattle have had to adapt to the great drought: there they almost never drink, contenting themselves with abundant morning dew and to consume the leaves of succulents in water reserves. In addition to meat, the Malagasy also derive milk from cattle, which they consume in various ways; the Europeans also taught them the tanning of leather for the leather industry; horns and bones are also used. The export of live cattle to Europe is not possible, but in Madagascar, especially in Maiunga and Diego Suarez, several factories for the preservation of meat, whose products are very appreciated: this industry could intensify a lot in the future. Alongside the humped cattle, dairy cattle from France and Réunion were brought to the center of Madagascar in the last century; other non-humped cattle live in the wild.
The natives of the southern, western and central regions raise rams belonging to the steatopygian breed, with big tail, from Africa and Asia: in 1917 there were about 300,000; alongside these, the breeding of sheep of the wool breed is being attempted. In the O. and in the S., and also in the high lands of the center of the island goats are raised, imported by the Arabs: there were about 150,000 in 1920. Pigs are very numerous in the central regions of Imerina and Betsileo: overall in 1912 they exceeded 530,000 ; pork is exported. Horse breeding was introduced in the central plateau.
The seas surrounding Madagascar are full of fish; fishing is practiced very profitably also in the eastern coastal lagoons. Most of the Malagasy fish; for some tribes, such as the Sakalava Vezo of the west coast, it is the main occupation. The Malagasy of the NO. they hunt the dolphin; those of the N., of the O. and the NE., especially the Sakalavas, are very skilled in catching sea turtles, of which they actively trade, and which they capture by taking them to the high seas with their outrigger canoes, true masterpieces of balance and construction.
Industries. – The French administration has boosted existing industrial activities in Madagascar and created new ones. After all, the soldier Radama I, in order to promote the industrial development of the country, had already called English artisans to Madagascar, who then left the island when Ranavalona I expelled the missionaries; in 1831, J. Laborde, who had so much cooperated in the economic improvement of the country, came to Madagascar, thrown by a storm; he taught the Merinas the manufacture of weapons and gunpowder and many other industries.
Madagascar has some brown coal deposits; in the upper basin of the Onilahy a carboniferous soil was discovered by Captain Colcanap which is being exploited and from which it is hoped that large quantities of coal will be extracted. Iron ore is found in several places on the island, especially in the eastern and central region, and most of the Malagasy tribes have practiced metallurgy since time immemorial. In the north-west of Madagascar are the main enterprises of gold extraction from alluvial soils: it cannot yet be said that veins have been discovered that would reward the enterprise, but the work done by the natives in the river beds continues to give encouraging results: in 1932 301 kilograms were exported. 414 of raw gold in ingots or powder. As for oil, if liquid source oil has not yet been found, however, the expeditions of Bertrand, Joleaud and Dumas have discovered the existence, in the north-west of the island, of layers of oil shale containing oil concentrated by drying in the course of the centuries, from which, with industrial processes, it can be extracted. To the riches that Madagascar obtains from the subsoil is to be added graphite, of which there are the richest deposits all around the central plateau; the precious mineral found scattered in the primitive soils of this part of the island is of excellent quality, superior to that of Ceylon graphite, previously considered the best. Especially in the north-eastern part of the island, quartz is abundant, already exported by Arab immigrants who settled on the island after the century. IX-X.
The common ceramic industry is widespread among the Malagasy. Europeans tried to improve this indigenous industry: in 1889 a pottery factory was set up in Ampangabé, and the art of pottery is taught in the professional schools of Tananarivo and Antsirabé. All the Malagasy women practice weaving and take care of the family’s clothing; they use cotton, hemp, raffia, banana or lafotra fibers for their characteristic works, stems of grasses or rushes, even beaten tree peels, silk. In Imerina and Betsileo, the manufacture of laces, which are exported, has developed, introduced by the French nuns. The panama-type hat industry is active. Vegetable fibers and leaves are used in the manufacture of various baskets and utensils, including sacks that are shipped to Reunion and Mauritius, to be used in the transport of rice and sugar; tree shells are also used in the manufacture of solid ropes. Some other industries have already been mentioned in the paragraph on agriculture.