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Rice culture in Madagascar

Rice cultivation in Madagascar

Irrigated rice cultivation

Rice plays a fundamental role in the lives of the majority of the Malagasy population.
It represents the essential part of their diet (on average 120 kg per person per year). But their cultural and symbolic capital is as important as their economic capital. Almost impossible to imagine a meal (including breakfast) without travel, the side dishes are often minimalist, while the quantities of rice are gigantic.
The rice-growing landscapes are very diverse: bands of rice paddies lining the valley bottoms, narrow terraces on the slopes, rectangular plots crisscrossing the plains, paddies with flood recession on the banks of lakes and rivers, and open slash-and-burn fields in the forest.
In the highlands, lowland rice cultivation combines checkerboard plots in adjacent valleys with large valley plots. Farmers perform miracles to control water that they fear is scarce or abundant.
Transplanting reduces water-related risks and weed competition.

The Wet rice cultivation (flooded or irrigated) makes up most of the agricultural landscape in the highlands.

Manual plowing (plowing with a spade)

The soil of the rice field is prepared with the help of the Angady, a kind of spade with a long and narrow iron and a heavy wooden handle, turned. Entire mountains and endless landscapes have been stabbed with the spade on the highlands for generations.

The rice fields are a secular heritage of the ancestors who had fed the generations for centuries, they count with the Zebu stock most important place in the native culture.

Plowing, harrowing and grading

The trampling of rice fields by zebus tends to disappear. The plow and harrow pulled by two zebus are used for plowing and crumbling until a liquid mud is formed.


The water supply is provided in the valleys by springs - water that, due to gravity, comes from land to plot circulates - and in the valleys by rivers, which are usually dammed. A peripheral canal protects the rice fields from the runoff water that runs down the hills in the rainy season.

Diguettes and dams

The drainage and irrigation network provides regular flooding of the plots.
The dikes seal off the rice fields, hold back water and serve as paths. The steeper the slope, the smaller the plots and the dike network.

The rice harvest

Harvested is made with a sickle, very time-consuming method but which has been used for centuries.

The sheaves are placed in a row on the ground and then transported to the threshing floor.

The threshing

The threshing is done on mats by threshing the sheaves on a large stone or rock so that the rice grains can be separated from the straw together with the husk and then picked up.

The women then sort the rice, which is stored in silos or granaries.

Peregrine rice cultivation, also called "Tavy".

Rice is grown on the eastern slope of the island, a mountainous region covered with forests, with a hot and humid climate. The term "tavy" refers both to the land in the middle of the forest and to the method of cultivation: shifting cultivation, slash-and-burn after clearing. This system requires an axe and a long-handled knife, but no tillage.

Land clearing

Once vegetation is cut and dried, firebreaks are created in front of and behind the plot Nature sauvage de Madagascar. Tout sauver maintenant ou plus rien ...and set fire to the plot. The fire lasts part of the day. Sowing takes place after the burning, just before the rain is expected.

Sowing and plot maintenance

The rice grains are buried in pits dug with a digging stick. Until the first ears appear, the plot is regularly weeded by hand.


Growth in this method lasts from four to six months.
The cut ears are dried by hand on the burnt logs, which lie on the ground or on a large mat.
The plot will remain fallow for several years after that.

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After 10 months of total inactivity, self-employed people in the tourism industry in Madagascar are completely without income. There is no opening of the borders in sight in Madagascar and we are at the beginning of the rainy season, which is the low season, even in normal times. I have started a fundraiser for the guides and drivers I know well. From this money we will buy rice and other essentials and distribute them regularly, if possible, until the resumption of travel activities in April 2021 at the earliest. My special thanks to those who have already donated. I will start buying rice tomorrow and will begin distributing it this week.
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Or by bank transfer directly to my account to Klaus Konnerth
GLS Bank
IBAN: DE66430609674101878400
Keyword: Donation Madagascar

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I guarantee you that all donations to 100% will reach the people. Kind regards Klaus

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Thank you for thinking about donating to the poorest. Maybe you will come back here again.

I guarantee you that all donations to 100% will reach the people. Kind regards Klaus

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