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Madagascar, land of oils

Located south east of Africa. When flying over this Island we fell in love. How could we not ? Madagascar is an impressive island, known for its beauty and biodiversity.

 

♦ Another world ♦

Nicknamed the Big Island, with incredible resources, breath-taking landscapes and an exciting history. Madagascar is a patchwork off people from varying cultures and countries due to a large amount of migration from countries such as Africa, Indonesia and India.

The country is often described as one of the poorest in the world, but it is also one of the richest in terms of botany, agricultural quality and endemism. Its biodiversity is unique and exceptional. From the Baobab Valley in the west to the turquoise lagoons of the north and south-west, the diverse nature never ceases to amaze us. We travel many kilometres through deserts, tropical forests, red clay plateaus, dry and thorny forests... The island is still preserved by mass tourism and offers authentic scenery.

 

♦ A unique flora and fauna ♦

Madagascar is considered a wild sanctuary by scientists, with nearly 19 000 endemic species, only found in Madagascar. Representing 80 to 90% of all plant species listed in Madagascar. A unique variety of vegetation that you will not find anywhere else in the world. By visiting Madagascar, you will discover an untouched area of Earth.

Madagascar is well known for its Baobab trees, 6 of the 8 species of Baobab grow in Madagascar. It is a magical and captivating experience to visit the Valley of Baobab in Morondova.
Another well-known plant species is the Ravenala, also known as the “l’arbre du voyageur” (travellers’ tree). The Tropical plant can be found on the Malagasy coins and as part of the Air Madagascar logo. Endemic to the island, it was later introduced to the neighbouring islands; Reunion, Mauritius, Comoros and the West Indies.

There are also many varieties of orchids, more than 1000 species! The Jasmine found in Madagascar symbolizes happiness of a couple and is used in as the main flower for wedding decoration or the bridal crown.

Animals are also very important. If you want to see Lemurs in their natural environment come to Madagascar. There are 110 Lemur species in Madagascar. You must be cautious with the Lemurs and make sure not to upset them. One of our employees was attacked by one on a campsite, she wasn’t too happy with the competition…

There are also 310 bird species of which 181 are endemic, 384 reptiles of which 367 are endemic, 235 amphibians of which 229 endemic, 5,800 invertebrates of which 4,988 are endemic and 164 freshwater fish of which 97 are endemic.

 

♦ Unprecedented oilseed potential ♦

Madagascar is famous for its vanilla, spices as well as for its essential oils, for example Ravintasara or Geranium. Until now it was not known for its vegetable oils. The difference between essential oils and vegetable oils is in the extraction process. Essential oils are obtained by hot distillation from the volatile materials of the plants, the vegetable oils are obtained by cold pressing or hot oil seeds. The potential of Madagascar for these oleaginous plants is considerable, we have been able to discover the still hidden riches of this land of oils and to develop a whole range of precious oils from the most common to the most mysterious.

Madagascar has a good environment to plant and harvest Ricin. The oil, Castor oil, is widely used in cosmetics. Ricin was what started everything for us.

We also have an exceptional oil from a lesser known source, but a well know tree, the Baobab. It is a tree that can live up to 3,000 years, however it was only in the 19th century that the variety Adansonia Grandideria was first identified by Alfred Grandidier. The local people use it to make juice from the pulp of the fruit, we then buy the seeds from them to produce our Baobab oil.

You may also know of the Figue de Barbarie (Prickly Pear), cactus with red-orange or sometimes purple colour fruit, found on the coasts of southern France. It can also be found in many countries around the world including Madagascar. It takes more than 30 kilos of seeds, found within the fruit to make 1 litre of oil, that is an estimated 1 ton of fruit. An oil with extraordinary virtues, it can be seen as an expensive oil, but its performance is unmatched. Imagine an oil from a seed that even after burning in a bush fire, still germinates after the first rain. Can you imagine the performance of an oil from such a seed ?

Ximénia or Calophylle oil is less known but has many active properties. We had to walk for miles to be able to get to these plants and trees. Through muddy tracks, practically impassable, then by a canoe or by foot, we crossed rivers, descended rivers and passed through hostile vegetation to find them. Ximenia Perreiri, is a variety than only became known a few decades ago. The plant was only discovered at the beginning of the 20th century by the explorer and botanist Henri Perrier de La Bâthie.

There are still countless oilseeds to discover in Madagascar. We continue our explorations in search of them. Follow us and our discoveries on our regularly updated social media pages.

By purchasing a product from Comptoir des Huiles, it is more than buying a tube of cream, it is contributing to an economic and solidarity approach and a direct and positive impact on the disadvantaged populations of Madagascar.

 

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