Madagascar · 19 January 2022 · 2 min
In Madagascar, four million people have insufficient access to food.
Rice is a staple food and the nation is one of the highest per-capita rice consuming countries in the world. Yet despite annual rice production averaging four million metric tons, Madagascar still cannot meet its own demand. Local rice production (approximately 2-3 metric tons per hectare) does not satisfy national needs, which results in a hard lean season, the need to import large quantities and increased consumption of poor-quality imported rice.
In many regions, communities face additional issues:
With support from the innocent foundation – whose mission is to help the poorest families feed themselves – the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) began implementing the SPEEDRICE project in 2019. This three-year project seeks to fight hunger and enhance food security amongst vulnerable households in Madagascar by introducing a new package of sustainable agriculture techniques developed by AKF: the Zanatany Rice Permaculture System (ZRPS).
AKF will train 20,000 smallholder farmers in the Zanatany Rice Permaculture System, expecting rice yield increases of 50 percent or more.
AKDN / Didier Van Bignoot
ZRPS seeks to address the constraints inherent in other rice intensification systems such as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) that cause very high rates of attrition. ZRPS is based on four pillars:
Farmers can gradually adopt the ZRPS pillars at their own pace and implement the system in a much broader range of topographies than SRI. By reducing labour – that is usually assigned to women – and water requirements, ZRPS is both gender-friendly and climate-smart. Since its initial design, the system has provided extremely promising results in terms of productivity, while going through a continuous improvement process from field observations and experiments.
Through SPEEDRICE, AKF will test and adapt ZRPS across various agro-ecological zones of Madagascar, working in the five regions of Sofia, Diana, Sava, Analamanga and Itasy. It will train 20,000 smallholder farmers in ZRPS, expecting an adoption rate of 30 percent and rice yield increases of 50 percent or more.