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Smith College

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Madagascar: National Identity and Social Change


Agriculture in Madagascar continues to remain largely undeveloped. Out of the eighty percent of Malagasy individuals that live in rural areas an overwhelming sixty five percent practice subsistence agriculture. With respect to the country as a whole this means that out of Madagascar's 58.2 million hectares of available land only 5.2 percent (3 million hectares) are farmed. And out of these 3 million hectares only 67% are cultivated permanently and only 11% are fertilized.

While there are several reasons for why Madagascar’s agriculture has remained largely undeveloped and for why Madagascar continues to rely on imported crops to meet its population’s needs, one of the main causes can be attributed to the lack of fertilizer use. Many Malagasy farmers simply don’t understand the need to use fertilizers. Among other reasons, this can be explained by a heavy reliance on tavy (slash and burn agriculture). And out of those who do use fertilizers, many use traditional soil enrichers, such as, cow and pig manure. The use of the aforementioned traditional fertilizers yields better agricultural results than using no fertilizer at all. Unfortunately, however, over the years as Madagascar’s population has increased the efficacy of these conventional products has diminished. In short, it appears that Madagascar’s

traditional farming methods are no longer enough to meet all of its agricultural needs (Rakouth).


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agricultural Science | Sustainability


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