Vegetable Gardens Feed 2,000 Families in Madagascar

ADRA initiative provides income replacement during the pandemic.

Rachel Cabose
Vegetable Gardens Feed 2,000 Families in Madagascar

In Madagascar the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been training people to grow successful vegetable gardens, raise poultry, and make handcrafts to supplement lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic. ADRA has assisted 2,000 families in and around Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, that have experienced significant disruption of their livelihoods because of the COVID-19 health crisis and lockdown measures. In a country in which three out of four people survive on less than US$2 per day, nearly two thirds of households reported a decline in income since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Many households have lost their livelihoods because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are partially unable to meet their food and nutritional needs,” Luis Acevedo, country director for ADRA in Madagascar, said. “During ADRA’s rapid needs assessment conducted in May, we found that the most frequent strategy people are using to cope with their loss of income is simply to eat less. ADRA is stepping in to help vulnerable individuals grow nutritious food to feed their families.”

During the coming year ADRA will help 1,900 households establish climate-smart home gardens where they can grow sweet potatoes, legumes, and vegetables to eat or sell. The families will receive seeds and essential agricultural tools and will be trained in successful growing methods, as well as ways to market their produce and turn it into higher-value products.

In addition, 100 female-headed households will learn how to supplement their income by raising chickens or making handcrafts for sale. Each poultry-raising family will receive one rooster and four hens to begin their flock, while the other families will receive raw materials and tools needed for handcrafting. All participants will be educated on how to make these activities economically viable.

Eliane Rasoarimanana was one of the most active participants in the project. At age 47 she lives in Ampasika, a village about 19 kilometers (12 miles) from the capital city of Antananarivo. Rasoarimanana has been a farmer for years, but the yield from her crops has always been poor. When ADRA implemented the COVID-19 food security project in her area, her situation changed.

“I acquired a lot of new skills and experience from the trainings from ADRA,” Rasoarimanana said. “First, we received training in agriculture. I learned a lot of new techniques, such as how to do composting, how to use earthworm compost, how to prepare the soil.”

“We were also trained in culinary arts. We learned that after a good harvest, it is important to know how to cook the food and preserve it. Today we can prepare excellent and healthy dishes even with very simple recipes,” she added.

Rasoarimanana is grateful for the changes that the project brought to her family, especially for the success of her garden.

“Before, when I planted cassava, I could get only a few small cassava roots. Today, with the right techniques, one root alone is enough to feed the family. I could cook one root in three meals, and I even gave some to my mother,” she said.

Her success also impacts her neighbors. Like the other women participants, called Trainers of Trainers, Rasoarimanana had to train 10 other women. “Once they saw my harvest, they straightaway decided to learn as well,” she said. “I thank ADRA for these valuable trainings.

Rachel Cabose