Category: sustainable agriculture –
The South of Madagascar is a semi-arid zone submitted to a dry and hot wind. The practice of agriculture there is difficult and the population is regularly subject to the risks of food insecurity. The windbreak hedges, at the level of the coastal zones, constitute a means of limiting the strengths of the wind which destroys crops and dig out arable soils. The FASARA project associates itself with farmers to find out the best combinations of species to be used, both to fight against the wind but and also to benefit from the various advantages offered by the properties of these species.Revised Short Version: Fighting the Tiokatimo Winds: Farmers Experiment – Windbreak Hedges (in pdf-format – 090914)
1. Androy: a semi-arid region
General objective: To improve food security in Androy
Specific objective: To attenuate the erosive and drying effect of dominant winds of south East on soils and crops (objective of the component)
Activities: setting up of windbreak hedges
The windbreak hedges are put in place around the crops plots. In the beginning, implanted alongside the contiguous plots, they are henceforth put in place around the individual plots because that operation requiring the coordination of different land owners was difficult.
The everlastingness of the hedge is supposed to be linked to the interest of its different uses for the farmer. That is why it was chosen to install the hedges mixing different species with different functions, each of it having, at a minimum, to assure a good protection against wind.
Implementation and achievements
Choice of varieties:
The first years constituted a phase of test for the choice of species. Today, the hedges are constituted of: Pithecolobium dulce (advantageous for fodder, fire wood, construction wood, eatable fruit, shade), Acacia auriculoformis (advantageous for fodder, construction wood, eatable fruit, shade), Jatropha curcas (advantageous for oil production , soap), Parkisonia aculeata, Varo (advantageous for construction wood, shade), Ziziphus (advantageous for fodder, firewood, construction wood, eatable fruit, shade) and Anacardium (eatable fruit).
The hedges present different interests according to the used species. They can provide biomass for a direct seedling agriculture under plant coverage, but also of eatable products (listed) and of wood, etc.
The tests led to put aside some species. Among them: Tamarindus indica, Morenga oleifera, Jatropha mahafaliensis, Casuarinas, Albizzia, The Morenga is not bearing leaves during the period when winds are strong. The growth of the Tamarindus is slow. The Albizzia is difficult to cultivate in nursery…
Two rows of trees are planted in staggered rows at one meter distance from each other. In the phase of growth, the trees need protection. This is testified by the high death rate of trees (50% every year). It appeared therefore necessary, in the first stage, to double those hedges with hedges of cactus acting like a protective strip during growth. Because of their spiny character, the cactuses associated to the hedges also permit the protection of the crops against the straying of animals.
The mils or cajanus are other protective strips that present interests. They have the particularity to have an agricultural use. The mil is annual; it must therefore be implanted according to the periods of violent wind to play its protective role. Mil and cajanus are eatable and possess the property to improve soil fertility. Their limits reside in the availability in seed for farmers.
The hedge must make obstacle to dominant winds that blow during the months of August and September from the Southeast.
Organization of the supply and monitoring
The implementation of this activity is achieved by a team of 8 animators installed in different points of the intervention zone. The FASARA project gets its stock from two associations of nursery women formed initially by South Objective (Ampela mitraoke, Vehivavy mianala).
The plants are provided to individual farmers who wished to take part in the experience. At first carried out in all the councils of the project intervention zone, that activity was reduced to 6 councils, at the rate of 2 to 4 fokontany per council, in order to concentrate the experience in a more reduced zone and to get more visible results.
The Support Program to the Agricultural Networks and of Improvement of Food Security in the Androy Region (FASARA) is put into implementation in the Androy region by the Group of Research and Technological exchanges (GRET) since December 2005 and until the end of the month of May 2009. This project, financed by the European Union, comes in the continuation and the extension of the activities of agricultural component of the project «South Objective “. One of the activities of the FASARA project consists in promoting the development of windbreak hedges.
Distance of hedges planted 2006-2007: 45 km
Distance of hedges planted 2007-2008: 40 km representing 41573 plantations
These results remain limited because the farmers of the area are not yet convinced of the interest of this practice, whereas it is expensive in time of work. The results still lack visibility.
The combining of the plantation of the hedges with other farmers’ activities is not obvious. Because of the low rainfall, the farmers privilege, during rainfall, the cultivation of their farms at the detriment of the plantation of windbreak hedges.
It is important to maintain the plantation of hedges when there are rains but also to minimize as much as possible the efforts required so that they can fully dedicate themselves to their crops: to organize the digging of holes in periods of low activity for example.
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