Basic necessities survey in Madagascar: how do we consume today?

01/02/2019. Who hasn’t made big eyes at the sight of the umpteenth increase in the price of basic necessities at the corner grocery store? Yes, prices are rising steadily and our purchasing power has been stagnating for ages. But we’ve been bitching about it enough in our latest cost of living survey. Today, we are interested in more factual information on basic necessities in Madagascar: how often do Tananarivians buy these products and how much do they consume per month?

For this survey, we took to the streets of the capital to interview 900 people. We share the results with you in this article.

Focus on the consumption of basic necessities by the Tananarivians

For this survey on basic necessities in Madagascar, we focused on 4 basic foodstuffs that are essential for Malagasy households: rice, oil, sugar and salt.


Impossible to speak basic necessities in Madagascar without talking about rice. Asked how often they buy the main food, rice, 50% of Tananarivians admit to buying it more than once a week. 31% then buy it once a month, 7% once a week and 6% every two weeks. Finally, 3% buy rice once a month.

In terms of quantity consumed per month: most of the respondents, 30%, say they consume between 20 and 30kg of rice per month. Thereafter, 23% consume between 30 and 40kg, 12% consume between 50 and 60kg and 11% consume between 40 and 50kg. Finally, 12% say they consume more than 60kg/month and 6% consume less than 20kg.

(instant pub: did you know that rice can accompany a good coconut ravitoto:) ? That’s it, I’m out !)

Rice, a staple of the Malagasy diet
Rice, a staple of the Malagasy diet

The oil

We also discussed the subject of oil with our respondents and it emerged that a small majority of 47% said they buy oil more than once a week.


  • 30% buy once a month
  • 11% buy once a week
  • 7% buy it every 2 weeks
  • 3% less than once a month

As for the quantity of oil consumed per month, more than a third (37%) admit to consuming between 1 and 1.5 litres over this period. For the rest, here are the figures:

  • 23% consume 3 liters of oil and more per month
  • 17% consume between 1.5 and 2 liters
  • 10% consume less than 1 liter
  • 6% consume between 2.5 and 3 liters
  • 4% consume between 2 and 2.5 liters

Oil is essential for all households, probably the most used basic necessities in Madagascar.


We asked our respondents how often they buy sugar and it turned out that 36% of the respondents, or more than a third, buy sugar more than once a week.

This is followed by 32% who buy once a month, 17% who buy once a week, 9% who buy every two weeks and 3% who buy less than once a month.

In terms of the amount of sugar consumed per month, it was found that 42% of the respondents consumed between 1 and 1.5 kg of sugar. For the rest of the statistics, we saw that :

  • 32% consume less than 1kg of sugar per month
  • 10% consume 3 kg of sugar and more per month
  • 6% consume between 1.5 and 2 kg of sugar per month
  • 6% consume between 2 and 2.5 kg of sugar per month
  • 2% consume between 2.5 and 3 kg of sugar per month


The frequency of salt purchase is once a week for 1 out of 3 Tananarivians (33%). Next:

  • 28% buy more than once a month
  • 24% buy once a week
  • 12% buy it every 2 weeks
  • 3% buy less than once a month

Our survey also revealed that salt is usually bought in bags for 82% of Tananarivians. We are talking here about the standard 200g sachets as found in almost all grocery stores. Then 20% buy them by the kilo and only 2% buy them by the kapoaka.

82% of Tananarivians buy bagged salt
82% of Tananarivians buy bagged salt

And if we take a closer look at the number of sachets of salt consumed, we see that 68% of respondents who buy salt in sachets use less than 4 sachets per month. Then come in their wake:

  • 18% who consume 5 sachets per month
  • 8% who consume 6 per month
  • 4% who consume more than 8 per month

For those who buy salt by the kilo, a little more than half (51% to be precise) consume between 1 and 1.5 kg per month. For the other respondents, here is the quantity consumed:

  • 27% consume less than 1kg
  • 10% consume between 1.5 and 2.5kg
  • 10% consume between 2 and 3kg

The amount of expenditure allocated to the purchase of basic necessities

Also as part of our survey on basic necessities in Madagascar, we wanted to know the amount spent monthly on the purchase of these foodstuffs. We thus saw that :

For rice

  • 41% spend between 40,000 and 60,000 ar per month
  • 19% spend between 60,000 and 80,000 ar
  • 10% spend between 100,000 and 120,000 ar
  • 10% spend between 80,000 to 100,000 ar
  • 5% spend less than 40,000 ar
  • 9% spend 120,000 ar and more

For sugar

  • 51% spend less than 5,000 ar per month
  • 37% spend 5,000 to 10,000 ar
  • 10% spend 10,000 ar and more

For salt

  • 89% spend less than 2,000 ar per month
  • 8% between 2,000 to 3,000 ar
  • 1% spend more than 5,000 ar

What we can learn from this survey on basic necessities in Madagascar

We can already see from this survey that the majority of Tananarivians buy basic necessities more than once a week, whether for rice, oil, sugar, or salt. For each product, this frequency of purchase always wins the majority: 50% for rice, 47% for oil, 36% for sugar, and 33% for salt. We are therefore fixed on one thing: the Tananarivians are more adept at small errands, done several times a week or even every day, than big ones.

Another interesting point seen in this survey is that households in the capital do not consume much oil. Indeed, when we know that 19% of households in Antananarivo have three, 28% have four, and 31% have five (77% of Antananarivo households fall into these three classes), and when we also see that 74% of Tananarivo residents consume less than 1.5 kg/month, we understand that sugar is the least consumed basic necessities of all.

Finally, in terms of the amount spent per month on these basic necessities, 41% of Tananarivians spend 40,000 to 60,000 ar per month on rice. For sugar, a little more than half (51%) spend less than 5,000 ar per month, and finally for salt, an overwhelming majority of 89% spend less than 2,000 ar per month.

The fact remains that basic necessities remain unavoidable in Madagascar. Thus, even if their costs increase and 89% of Tananarivians consider that the current cost of living in Madagascar is very expensive, there is hardly any choice. We have to eat.


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