The agroforests of the east coast of Madagascar


Authors: Pascal Danthu, Julien Sarron, Eric Penot, Juliette Mariel, Vololoniriana Razafimaharo and Isabelle Michel

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62


Language: English


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This article explores the significance, challenges, and future prospects of Madagascar’s cash crops: vanilla, cloves, lychees, black pepper and cinnamon. Cultivated by small-scale farmers in biodiverse agroforestry plots, these cash crops have historical importance in Madagascar's export-oriented economy that has seen Madagascar become the world's leading producer of vanilla, the second largest exporter of cloves and essential clove oil, and the leading exporter of lychees to the European market. Despite contributing substantially to the country's exports, farmers remain vulnerable, as the markets for these products are controlled by global food industry giants and are subject to significant price fluctuations. Other factors that contribute towards farmer’s vulnerability include climate change, local security conditions, competition from other producing countries and the introduction of synthetic vanillin. Despite the volatilities, farmers’ income and food security remain tied to these cash crops. Diversification is recommended to ensure better resilience against volatile conditions, including diversification of crops, land management practices, and product uses. By adapting agroforests to integrate a variety of cash crops and food crops, farmers’ income and food security will be protected long-term. Further research on agro-biodiversity management is now needed to continue to mitigate market dynamics and environmental challenges.  

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