- Learning Network
Challenges · Agroforestry · Biodiversity · Livelihoods
Tropical Wet & Dry
Coffee, Fruit, Rice
The Corridor Ankeniheny Zahamena (CAZ) is located in the eastern biome of Madagascar and surrounded by 4 protected areas: The Zahamena National Parks, the Special Reserve of Mangerivola, the Strict Natural Reserve of Betampona and the Analamazaotra- Mantadia National Park. This landscape is mainly composed of wet forest in the low and mid elevation with several secondary forest and crop fields. It serves as habitat for many endemic species of fauna and flora (85%) and a main source of water in the eastern and western parts of Madagascar. This area is characterized by two humid seasons: a) a hot, rainy season from September to May and b) a cooler with season with little precipitation from June to August. The mean annual temperature is 21°C and precipitation is 2503mm.
The majority of local people are farmers and most of them rely on natural resources for their livelihoods (for food, for medicine and for housing). Though they used to practice Tavy, a slash and burn for agriculture, and a few wetland rice fields for rice cultivation, many agriculturalists have moved towards the agroforestry,and cash crops such as Lychees, cloves, coffee seeds. CAZ is one of the key work areas for Conservation International’s Madagascar office.
I have worked in this CAZ landscape since I was a fellow at Conservation International, under the Zahamena Project, when I did the ethnobotany study, collected all information related to the useful plants. I’m a Biologist but have an additional background in international development. Now, I’m in charge of the sustainable agriculture program at Conservation International Madagascar. During my field experiences, I have realized that vulnerable farmers need natural resources for their livelihoods: source of water for crops and for drink, source of medicinal plants and wood for building houses. In addition, results of my recent study showed that farmers who live near by the forest are more resilient after the risks such as cyclone than those who live far from the forest. These farmers who live near by the forest can harvest wild food and not have to by materials for roof and walls to rebuild damaged house due to the cyclone. In addition, crop fields near by the forest are more resistant to drought and wind. Then, I can say that the protection of the CAZ will increase the services provided by the ecosystems and improve local farmers’ livelihoods.Zo Lalaina Rakotobe Focal Point of Sustainable Agriculture, Conservation International - Madagascar Program
One of the most important activities in CAZ is the implementation of coping mechanisms adopted by rural farmers after the catastrophic events such as cyclone and drought in some remote villages. Most of the farmers are living in the remote villages where they cannot be reached by emergency support. Conservation International, under the Gates foundation, identified these coping mechanisms that have been up scaled through the Node small grants program. Conservation agriculture such as cultivation of white beans with stilosanthes has been practiced to fight against drought and wind. The stilosanthes are used to maintain soil moisture and fertility. Then instead of relying upon slash and burn methods, farmer can restore fertility of degraded land by using conservation agriculture. Roughly 425 smallholder farmers (202 households for Morarano and 223 households for Beforona) from 20 sites (13 sites in Morarano and 7 sites in Beforona) practiced practiced these conservation agriculture strategies in the southern part of the CAZ in 2013.
Authorities from multiple levels must be brought together. To reach farmers from remote villages and to facilitate the implementation and the monitoring of the activities to be implemented, they have been asked to create a local association in each village or Fokontany (the smallest administrative unit) such as a farmers’ association, youth association, women association. The groups will receive support such as small grants or capacity building through this association to implement coping strategies that help to improve crop production and forest preservation. In CAZ, Conservation International (CI) collaborates with the National Association for Environmental Action (ANAE) to coordinate and monitor activities in remote villages where ANAE has worked previously. To better coordinate activities, all of these associations (called VOIs) should be a member of the Federation of VOIs. CI and the Federation will organize several local meetings to identify implementation and monitoring strategies.