Handicraft and rural development context note

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According to the Handicraft Directorate, the wealth created by the handicraft sector in Madagascar accounts for about 11% of national GDP, employs about two million and a half people (14% of active population). Thus, handicraft activities involve an important part of population, namely in rural areas.

Twelve value chains are currently identified :

  • Textile and apparel (39.5%) : embroidery, cutting and sewing, silk weaving, hat making industry, ready made clothing making, lace making, knitting, fashion styling ;

  • Plant fibers (12.1%) : Antaimoro paper, basketry, bamboo weaving, raphia, weaving, tapestry work and fibers;

  • Wood and byproducts (9.7%) : timber work, cabinet making, woodcarving, sawmill ;

  • Miscellaneous from animal origin (5.6%) : tanning, leather craft, shoe making , horn working, taxidermy ;

  • Stones and jewelry (5.4%) : lapidary work, fancy jewelry;

  • Micro-mechanics, electronics informatics, cold and electro-techniques (4.9%) : household appliance repair work, office automation, electrics, electronics, refrigeration materials;

  • Painting, , photography and graphics (4.5%) : photography, painting artistic drawing, graphics;

  • Housing development (4.3%) : electric installation, pottery, ceramics, brick making, house decoration,…

  • Metals and metal work (4.3%) : mechanical material making, smelting work, plumbing e, metal works,…

  • Culture and leisure (3.5%) : musical instrument making, lute making, toy making, model making;

  • Agro-food and food industry (3,3%) : pastry making, confectionary making, dairy making, catering service; et

  • Fat and hygiene (2.8%) : hairdressing, soap making, essential oil making.

The definition of the handicrafts person and his activity has been established by various regulatory texts:

  • Law N° 95-004 of June 21, 1995 relative to Handicraft

  • Law N° 97-018 of August 14, 1997 modifying and complementing the provisions of law relative to Handicraft

  • Decree N° 96-049 of ( ?) establishing the National Council for Handicraft

  • Decree N° 98-166 of February 19, 1998 organizing Handicraft

  • Order N° 54045/98 of July 17, 1998 classifying handicrafts people trades

  • Order N° 236-FAR/ANT of September 09, 1999 establishing, organizing and operating the Regional Council for handicraft in Antananarivo

  • Order N° 11 443/99 MIA/SG/DGA/DSO of October 29, 1999 classifying handicrafts people trades within value chains.

The production structure associates three basic factors which are economically interrelated : raw materials, work means, labor.

Rural areas put up several handicraft forms :

  • Local handicraft complementing agriculture

  • Local handicraft in fishery sector

  • Overall professional handicraft

  • Specialized professional handicraft

Main assets and constraints for developing handicraft in rural areas :
Assets in handicraft :

  • Diversified handicraft that directly participates in the socio economic life of population

  • Covers the whole national territory

  • Together handicrafts people make up a nursery for future heads of SMEs

  • Creating new wealth

  • Provides services to all layers of population

  • Use of local natural resources, as well as of recycled materials

  • Use of simple technologies which is a response adapted to overall shortcoming of means

  • Very wide range of products offered

  • Allows to restrict import

  • Plays a very important role as regards employment (direct and induced)

  • Very low cost of job creation (investment, training)

  • High labor intensity

  • Provides essentially low cost goods and services for population

  • Ensures redistributing incomes over the whole territory and concurs to maintaining an exchange activity at level of local micro markets

  • One of productive activities that drain private domestic savings as there is no speculation

  • Offers a fairly important potential for implementing regional development

  • Complementary with industries.

Constraints :

  • Scattered handicrafts people makes it difficult for public powers to directly intervene

  • Handicrafts people are often individualistic and this restricts efforts in favor of collective actions

  • inexistence of high tax transparence

  • lack of organization that acts a brake to normal marketing

  • partial work

  • Anti economic handicrafts people behavior (e.g. increase in price with increase of quantities ordered)

  • Competition with industries

Such constraints may be overcome in the medium to the long term. Handicraft plays an unavoidable role and may not be overlooked in a development policy



    1. Importance of handicraft sector in Madagascar

    2. Nature of production and list of trades

    3. Regional dimension of handicraft

    4. Buoyant niches of handicraft


    1. Current status of handicraft sector

    2. Main value chains and trades in rural areas

    3. Phenomenon of growth within handicraft


    1. Main constraints

    2. Assets in handicraft sector

    3. Identifying the main actors

    4. Proposal of development actions


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