4. Blog: Barefoot in the jungle

On her 4th and 5th day of her journey, Katja Wiese is going into the rain forest. During a meeting with Tsiry and their members she presents the method of dynamic agroforestry. Afterwards they are starting off in the forest to get an impression of the pilot areas.

4. and 5. Day – Method of dynamic agroforestry

On Saturday morning we are having a meeting with Tsiry and their members. From almost 400 members round about 50 people are present at the conference. It is the time of the vanilla harvest and many of them are in the field. Never mind, the project we want to present, will be passed on from mouth to mouth, for sure. We have been testing the method of dynamic agroforestry with six pilot farmers last year. It also works here. The area is developing good, the harvest is high. Many farmers are not used to the planting of cacao, carnation or coffee, after all you have to wait four years for the first harvest, however, meanwhile there is a good visible argument in favour of the new method: bananas. Normally a banana bears fruits after one or one and a half years. But not the bananas of the pilot areas – they are bearing the first fruits after eight weeks! Since then we are receiving many inquiries.

We tell them that this time we want to support 50 families from Tsiry, how much money the ministry of Germany (BMZ) makes available and how many costs Naturefund will bear. Tsiry has also to contribute financially, so they are not just consignees, but partners. We explain the planned steps and that every participant should be willing to participate correctly and committed and that we want to start a formation in dynamic agroforestry. Finally, we ask them what they think about the project and if they want to participate. Round about 50 people raise their hands – all of them want to participate. A good start so far.

Strict rules for the use of the lowlands rain forest

In the afternoon we are starting off in the jungle of Makirovana. It is the fag end of the lowlands rainforest of the region. In 2009 MBG (Missouri Botanical Garden) managed to declare, in cooperation with the bordering municipals, 4.000 ha as natural reserve, category 6 after the IUCN-criterias. The forest is still be used, however, the municipals have agreed strict rules for the use and a committee ensures that the rules are obeyed. For example, you are just allowed to fell dead trees first. If somebody wants to build a house and needs wood for it, also fresh one, he has to ask the committee for permission first. The committee decides, if, where and how much timber he is allowed to harvest. MBG is financing 10 rangers that are persistently wandering through the forest. As soon as they are finding someone that is harvesting timber without permission, they are reporting to the committee which administers a punishment between one and 200 Euros.

Barefoot and happy in the jungle

At first we are walking through rice paddies and along cut down and barren hills up to the mountains of Makirovana. The forest slowly gets thicker. Sometime the way goes through a small stream. My shoes are new, I am not sure if they are waterproofed and we still have a three-hours hike ahead. The others are walking in flip-flops or barefoot. Spontaneously, I turn off my shoes and imitate them. We are walking through the stream, over gravel and stones for round about one kilometer. My heart beats fast, but everything works out well. Barefoot in the jungle.

We are going on about three hours through thick forest, everywhere you can see traces of logging, but it seems to be moderate. The forest is thick and wild and seems to recover quickly. When we are finally reaching the camp, two little areas of 10 m² next to a little stream, my shirt is soaked in sweat and I am feeling KO. Later, while lying in my tent and looking at the shadow of the huge trees, the brighter light of the sky behind, some stars are blinking through the branches, suddenly I hear excited screams for about one hour echoing through the night. That are Lemurs, they tell me in the morning. I am more than happy and have been barefoot in the jungle.

Read the third blog here

Read the fifth blog here

More information about the project in Madagascar