The Malagasy are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and food security. Most land practices used, like slash and burn, are not sustainable. Roughly 73% of the population is employed in agriculture. Madagascar also suffers from soil erosion, largely due to deforestation and harsh agricultural activities that degrade the land like slash and burn. Crop diversification is essential for food sustainability. Crop yields are decreasing due to declining soil health, and additionally, for the first time, Madagascar faced six storms and cyclones within just three months. In southern Madagascar, 4 years of drought have left 1.5 million people – half the region’s population – facing extreme hunger.
We provide demonstrations and mentoring for the topic of agricultural practices. We bring up the topic of sustainable agricultural practices with the areas we visit a lot at the Madagascar Mobile library and also carry books under this topic. We introduce new ideas about food forests and agroforestry in group settings where we are able to also demonstrate this live and together with the community. We teach agricultural values and skills regarding diversified cropland, aligned with skills development in agroforestry.
We work with schools in Madagascar to establish fruit trees that are especially nutritious. We have realized that schools are an ideal location for us to plant fruit trees. Books are great to have, but some of the kids we see have to skip various meals. So, having the fruit trees gives the kids an opportunity to fill their bellies with nutritious food and as a result retain knowledge better too. We love getting the kids involved and giving them ideas on how they could grow their own food in the future. We also get the teachers involved so they can benefit from selling extra fruit for school supplies as well as help maintain the fruit trees.
Many Malagasy families come to visit the Madagascar Mobile library. For families who are struggling and share a level of commitment to our activities we will consider sponsoring them. We look at this as an opportunity to not just help a family in need, but to also share our knowledge about food forests, the environment and sustainability. We like to plant with the families as a workshop opportunity and proceed to follow up to see how things have changed as the seeds and trees develop. Diversified home vegetable gardens can substantially improve food security and nutritional outcomes, even in small spaces.
Madagascar is one of the most bio-diverse countries on Earth. More than 89% of Madagascar’s plant and animal life cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Over 80% of Malagasy people live on less than $2 a day and are forced to resort to exploitation of natural resources to find income and support their families.
Talent is global, opportunity is not.
Research has shown that literacy and education is directly linked to a better quality of life. Several areas of Madagascar are also isolated and have limited or no access to books and education. In order to empower the forest we must empower the people. This understanding is key in our approach to effectively supporting sustainable development so that people and nature can thrive together in harmony.
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