In 2009, three dynamic French entrepreneurs Alexandre Guerrier, Christophe and Delphyne Dabezies dared to embark on what, at the time, seemed impossible, and attempt to farm sturgeon and harvest caviar in Madagascar. Ten years on, Rova Caviar Madagascar is the first of its kind to be produced in Africa and the Indian Ocean.
Farming at Lake Mantasoa, Rova is rooted on the philosophy and belief that to obtain a product of exceptional quality respect must be shown for nature, living beings and the environment. The team control the production chain from A to Z to guarantee perfect traceability from the fertilised egg to the opening of the can — and the tasting of the caviar. Everything is done on the land and lake sites of the farm to ensure the environmental impact of the sturgeon farming is as low as possible.
In addition, they are the only sturgeon farm in the world producing food for their fish — a feed made from natural, local products free from medicine or growth hormones.
The farm currently breeds and raises six pure-bred sturgeon species including Sevruga, Beluga, and the extremely rare Persicus. This is done to not only guarantee the original taste of the related caviar but also to help sustain these endangered species. The density of fish is limited to 20kg/m3 of water — a third of the current density of French farms — allowing the fish time to follow their natural growth cycle in exceptionally pure waters free of pollutants (there are no industrial sites in the region), where they have the space they need to thrive.
“From the beginning, our project has been first and foremost a beautiful human story,” says co-founder Delphyne Dabezies “We started from a blank page to write this story [as a community] and win the ‘bet’ of the ‘black pearls of Madagascar’, the first African caviar!”
Being a human story, it was important that the project and development of the fish farm was of benefit to the people of Mantasoa and the neighbouring village of Ambatolanoa. Eighty percent of the 300-person team has been recruited from the community and, thanks to the company’s policy of in-service training, employees gradually develop in the sector by exploring the various occupations related to fish farming, production and marketing caviar, and are awarded opportunities to continue rising within the company.
For Rova, it’s not about being the biggest caviar producers in the world, rather their ambition is to produce caviar recognised as among some of the best in the world while respecting their natural surroundings, environment and all living beings involved in the process.
The caviar is carefully harvested at an onshore laboratory and, following the techniques of the famous French caviar firms, undergoes precise, manual processing before being packaged. This includes testing the roe’s size, balance and texture; washing; sorting; then carefully salting, according to the company’s closely guarded secret recipe, resulting in the most beautiful and unique flavours.
Rova Caviar Madagascar is available for purchase locally at:
- Johannesburg: La Marina Foods (116 Platinum Drive, Longmeadow North, Modderfontein)
- Cape Town: Giovanni (103 Main Road, Green Point)
- Stellenbosch: Wild Peacock (16 Stoffel Smit Street)