90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:

Tree Crops, Rail Lines and Miracle Grass
Fish & Rice from the Paddy
The View from Space
Managing a Growing Population

Burney Expedition

First fossa encounter
Modern conservation movement
Mysterious extinction
2,000 years ago
Agricultural practices
Preserving the forest
Vital trainline
Trainline destroyed
Trainline Music Video
A new species
Rugged terrain

Home > Last Stand > Rice & Fish from the Paddy

Madagascar's population is growing at 2.7 percent per year, a rate faster than almost any other nation. The task of feeding this expanding population is compounded by certain farming practices, such as raising annual crops on steep hillsides, which deplete the soil. As a result many farmers see no option but to clear additional virgin forest for agriculture.

Mark Freudenberger, who runs a technical assistance program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, says less forest would be felled if farmers used existing land more efficiently. For instance, he argues that fish raised in flooded rice paddies are an additional source of protein and cash. Fish bring other benefits -- their droppings fertilize the paddies. Justin Rabenandrasana, of the non-governmental group Tefy Saina, is promoting another way of making paddies more productive. He says that rice paddies can produce up to five times more crops per acre using a process developed 20 years ago by a Jesuit priest in Madagascar.

Video: More Crops and Trees
Agricultural specialist Mark Freudenberger explains how alternative cultivation methods can improve yields and preserve forests.
Rice Photogallery: Against the Grain
Malagasy consume more rice than any other people. Land required for its cultivation sometimes comes at the expense of the forest.

About | Biodiversity | Human Impact | Island People | Last Stand | Other WBUR Journeys: Antarctica / Greenland
©Copyright Trustees of Boston University