The well-watered central highlands region, with its marked seasons, provides ideal conditions for many crops.

Coffee

On the region’s eastern slopes, in areas cleared of mid-altitude rainforest, between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes a year of coffee – mainly robusta and a little arabica – is grown on farms and small plantations. Ambatomenaloha, southwest of Antsirabe and Anjoma Itsara, northwest of Fianarantsoa, are centres of small-scale arabica production, but in many parts coffee trees are harvested like a wild crop, and their beans roasted for home use. As well as the commercial varieties, Madagascar has more than 50 species of wild coffee, many with very low caffeine and some not yet named. There’s a coffee research station at Kianjavato, midway between Ranomafana National Park and the coast, where you can see many of them.

Tea

The Sahambavy tea plantation, some 22km east of Fianarantsoa along the Fianar–Côte East railway line (but a 40km drive along a circuitous route), was started from scratch in the 1970s, using Kenyan tea bush cuttings. It produces around 500 tonnes a year on its five square kilometres, representing nearly all of Madagascar’s tea production. Tea bushes thrive particularly well in areas with high rainfall and acidic soils, so rainforest clearings are ideal. Factory and field visits are possible.

Wine

Wine is perhaps the most surprising of Madagascar’s stimulant crops. Wine grapes, planted originally by French Jesuit priests, are important in the district around Fianarantsoa and Ambalavao, where the country’s best-known vineyards – Lazan’i Betsileo, Soavita, Clos Malaza and Domaine de Lovasoa – are all found. Together with several other small producers, they make about 10 million litres a year for the local market. Unfortunately, little if any Malagasy wine even reaches supermarket plonk standards and few of the best restaurants and hotel dining rooms serve it. The problem seems to be that the growing season is dry, while the ripening season coincides with the hot, wet austral summer. The harvest takes place in February, by which time the grapes have spent many weeks being gently steamed. One new producer may be onto something: Clos Nomena at Ambalavao has been experimenting since 2001 with noble grape varieties from France, rather than the usual international hybrids. Since 2011 they have been producing the first vintage wines in Madagascar – much more expensive, but worth seeking out.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Madagascar features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

8 reasons why Madagascar should be on your radar

8 reasons why Madagascar should be on your radar

Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, is a giant wonderland of natural sights and experiences. It's a place of diverse landscapes, climates and tribal …

20 Mar 2018 • Kirsten Henton insert_drive_file Article
Passport to write: the runners-up!

Passport to write: the runners-up!

After weeks of deliberation, we're thrilled to announce the results of the Rough Guides and Journeys are made @gapyear.com writing competition. The winning p…

03 Jul 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Incredible forests of the world

Incredible forests of the world

Spiny Forest, Madagascar On an island filled with weird and wonderful living things, the spiny forest has to be Madagascar's most unusual ecosystem. Endemic…

03 Oct 2014 • Alison Roberts camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs