By Hereward Holland LAKEMANTASOA, Madagascar (Reuters) – Jerome Bastide slides an ultrasound wand over the sturgeon’s belly, swiftly extracts a dozen eggs with a thick biopsy needle, and returns the fish to the lake. “Perfect for caviar,” he says, lining up the tiny grey orbs against a ruler. “Here we have really good eggs, we have great colour.” Floating fish laboratories like this one are common in Russia or Iran, around the Caspian Sea – but this is Lake Mantasoa, a hydropower reservoir in the highlands of Madagascar at an altitude of 1,400 metres (4,600 feet). It is Africa’s first, and so far only, caviar farm. With the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition, Madagascar is an unlikely source for a luxury food that fetches upwards of 700 euros ($775) per kg in plush French restaurants. But Mantasoa’s cool fresh water and inexpensive labour inspired three French entrepreneurs to set up a company in 2009, and they imported their first batch of fertilised sturgeon eggs from France four years later. “Friends thought we were crazy,” said Delphyne Dabezies, one of the founders of Acipenser. “Even our closest friends said: ‘Ridiculous, caviar in Madagascar – what’s next, salmon in the… Read full this story
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