Update from Feedback Madagascar
In April 2014, the Jo Walters Trust made a grant of £16,900 to Feedback Madagascar to fund a new project called 'Seeds for Change'. What follows is an update on how the money has been spent and what it has helped Feedback Madagascar to achieve.
The objective of the project was to provide seeds to some of the poorest communities in Madagascar, the 9th poorest country in the world. These communities live around, and are the custodians of, the native forests of Madagascar. Madagascar is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots with 5% of the world's species found only there. Most of these species are found in the rapidly dwindling forests which are also critical watersheds servicing the rest of the country. To help sustain these forests, Feedback Madgascar believes the best approach is to help the communities find ways to sustain themselves, without having to chop down the forests.
The Seeds for Change Project worked on this principle too. The Jo Walters Trust provided seeds to the communities as well as training in how to plant them in ways that are both productive, and sustainable. In exchange for the seeds and knowledge, the recipients were required to take part in community projects to benefit the community and the forest, such as clearing fire breaks to prevent any forest fires devastating both crops and forest, tree planting, and compost making.
The full report of the success of the project can be dowloaded by clicking the picture to the right, but the highlights, as we see them, are below:
- 713 households participated in the project across 21 different communities. They received seeds and training to give them the expertise to plant the seeds in a way that will deliver maximum yields, and least impact on the remaining forest.
- It had an incredibly high success rate - of the 21 community management associations that were involved, 20 had big successes.
- 72 households benefiting from this project had not been producing any of their own food, until now.
- The income from sales of produce grown ranged from £10 to £20. This may seem a small amount but for the poorest this might be a 50% increase in their annual cash income.
- In total 218.4 tons (728 ox cart loads) of compost were produced. That is an average of 306 kg per household. On top of this composting has been whole-heartedly embraced by all farmers and perceived as a major benefit.
- All beneficiaries committed to and carried out the community activities focused on forest management.
- The project proved an inspiration to get people protecting the land/forest from fire: "People are particularly motivated to protect their own new agroforestry plots" so much so that "inspiring « fire barrier » songs have been written to sing while working."
- Feedback Madagascar has learned in this project how to introduce seeds to communities in a way that not only improves short term nutrition and income but also sets communities up for long-term prosperity and well-being and empowers them to manage the forest and land which they depend upon.
- Local government departments (eg Direction Regionale de Development Rurale) are also impressed by these activities and are now offering partnership and rare resources to progress the nursery network.
- The Jo Walters Trust funded this project, to acquire seeds, very quickly, thus enabling the beneficiaries to get the maximum return from their already considerable efforts and enabling FBM/NT to take advantage of the heightened enthusiasm and motivation of beneficiaries. Without this intervention overall Treemad results and momentum would have been smaller and slower.