One of the worst things that can happen for the Malagasy people has happened, the closure of TIKO. I wanted to take a moment to perhaps go through some history of the company followed by the reasons that it closed.
The TIKO Story (in Short):
Almost everyone knows that TIKO when Ravalomanana (then in his early 20’s) and his wife Lalao began making home made yogurt and selling it off the back of a bicycle on the streets of Antananarivo.
Two years after the sale of their home made yogurt and with the assistance of the Protestant Church he secured a loan from the World Bank to purchase the first TIKO factory.
After the factory, TIKO became the largest non-foreign owned company in Madagascar selling oil and dairy products. The rest you could say is history.
Why it is closing:
According to a communique posted here on TopMada.com all the threats, lootings and hijackings, they are no longer able to continue operations. Here is the English version as posted on the site:
TIKO SA has been forced by the HAT and mutinous elements of the military to suspend our operations.
Against our wishes we are no longer able to provide shipments of our products to the people of Madagascar.
We are strongly opposed to this action but have no choice as the HAT has made it impossible for us to operate.
Over the past few months our employees have been threatened with force, our factories and offices have been searched and looted, and our raw material shipments have been hijacked at the port by the mutinous members of the military in coordination with the HAT. Unfortunately, our company has been forced to suspend its operations and cannot provide any essential food products to the people of Madagascar at this time.
We strongly disagree with this closure, especially at a time when people need essential food products the most. We are concerned about the possibility of this situation deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis.
We promise to the people of Madagascar that we will resume our operations as soon as it is possible to operate without intimidation directed against our employees, interference by mutinous troops, or theft of our goods.
Who can blame them? These HAT threats are the same thing that brought down the government and what is trying to quash the hopes and voices of the people of Madagascar. Now because of Andry Rajoelina and the HAT, people lose access to the affordable, high quality Malagasy produced food at a time when the country has more or less fallen apart. TIKO was the only product that people could depend on and it had the only good quality products that people could afford. Now what are the people to do? Rely expensive imports? Or worse, rely on cheap imports of unknown quality? There are very few other brands that are made in Madagascar and as well distributed as TIKO was, so it is very sad to see this happen. I found this quote on the net somewhere, and I thought it was applicable as to how far within the country TIKO had reached:
There were only two constants throughout the journey. The first was the green, blue and white “Tiko – vita Malagasy [Made in Madagascar]” signs plastered all over the towns and in at least one stall in every village.
Here is another article I have probably linked to before, but here is an article entitled “Ex-leader’s employees face uncertain future in Madagascar” That more or less states that Ravalomanana may have been rich and mixed business with politics, but he was one of the few Malagasy to invest massively in the country’s economy. Here are some good quotes from the article:
‘By destroying Ravalomanana’s wealth, Madagascans and Madagascar are being destroyed.’
Observers say Ravalomanana was among the few Madagascans to invest massively in the country’s economy – sometimes to the point of extravagance. Through Tiko, for example, he built Africa’s largest rice factory.
Today, Tiko employees say they face intimidation and threats because of their association with Ravalomanana’s business empire. They await their fate under the new regime with some trepidation.
Will TIKO re-open?
I am hopeful that it will, but it is obvious that so long as the HAT is in power it will remain closed. This is probably just the beginning of many closures because of the economic situation there and the loss of jobs since January 26th. And now that TIKO has been closed, some how items have made it out of the factories without having been completely processed, so on top of losing TIKO there is a good chance that a lot of people that depend on the products are likely to get sick.
I will miss TIKO… on my travels there, there was not a day that went by that I didn’t have a coconut TIKO yogurt… Mmmm… or went to a restaurant or visited a house that didn’t serve Classiko, or waking up in the morning to have a fresh cup of orange/pineapple or guava juice. So I have had my little moment of silence for the loss of TIKO and hope that post-HAT there is a swift return.