Agro-forestry in South-eastern Madagascar
An effective System for Improved Natural Resources Management as part of FS DRR
The South-eastern region of Madagascar, where most families (80% of the population) depend on agriculture, is regularly affected by floods and cyclones, causing severe damages to crops, land degradation and loss of human lives and livelihoods. Repeated climatic shocks, such as floods and cyclones erode poor families’ livelihoods and increase their level of vulnerability leading to chronic and acute food insecurity. One of the solutions to reduce the risk to disaster and to help reduce land degradation and increase agriculture productivity is the practice of agro-forestry techniques.
Agro-forestry, which is an association of perennial trees or shrubs with farming and/or pasture on a given land, is an innovative system introduced in this region through a technical partnership between FAO and FOFIFA (an applied research national center on rural development), in support to the ICCO/SAF FJKM project funded by ECHO (PATSA Project).
The technique was piloted in Mahela village, Soamanova community in Vaingaindrano District, which forms part of the project’s intervention zone. Plot cultures were prepared along contour lines, with clove and coffee trees arranged in staggered rows and citrus trees planted in lines along with lines of beans and Flemingia congesta.
After a year of work, involved communities in Mahela village have three demonstration plots covering more than 2 ha where they grow 434 clove trees, 145 citrus trees, half a hectare of beans, and 0.20 hectare of Flemingia rows. In addition, they have two coffee tree nurseries.
Nineteen (19) farmers stemming from four associations are fully involved in the adoption of the agro-forestry techniques, with eleven hectares of area planted. As they became aware of the benefits from agro-forestry in the long run (such as having improved bean seeds for their next farming season, generating additional and lasting income sources through coffee and clove trees, soil conservation with the system adopted, etc.), two new farmers’ associations from neighboring villages were formed out of their own initiative to replicate this practice on a bigger piece of land. The new associations were trained by FAO’s technician.
On November 14, FAO and FOFIFA in collaboration with ICCO/SAF organized a workshop in Soamanova to share the results on the agro-forestry activities, the challenges encountered, lessons learned, and to discuss the next steps in promoting this innovative approach with all stakeholders (farmers, the PATSA project, local authorities, governmental services at the local level, and other local structures such as the Agricultural Service Center). The workshop was an opportunity for farmers to discuss among themselves and share experiences on lessons learned, best practices, and perspectives for the future of agro-forestry in their area. Farmers expressed strong commitment to continue this activity.