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Analysis of Existing Institutional Arrangements and the Policy Environment for Managing Risk for Crop Production and Post-harvest Handling in Madagascar
30 April 2016


Introduction

Country overview of agriculture, food security and crop production and PHL issues

Madagascar is part of the African continent, located in the southwest of the Indian Ocean. It has an area of 587,041 km2 with a coastline of 5,063 Km. As of mid-2010, the total population of the country was approximately 22,293,914 (World Bank, 2012). About 57% of the population lives in extreme poverty, while in rural areas four out of five households live below the poverty line.

Agriculture forms the livelihood of the overwhelming majority of Malagasy. The main staple crop is rice, occupying about two-thirds of all the available cropland. Despite producing staples such as rice, maize, and cassava, Madagascar's yields remain low due to persistent droughts. Large-scale plantations dominate the production of sisal, coffee, cotton, sugar cane, vanilla, cloves, tobacco, bananas, and cotton. However, Malagasy agriculture is dependent mainly on small-scale subsistence farmers cultivating less than one hectare of land.

Description of climatic risks faced by smallholder farmer crop production in the study country

The agricultural sector is now in crisis with decreased crop production due to a number of factors. These include a major locust infestation and the effects of repeated cyclones. Floods and droughts have exacerbated the socio-economic effects of the political crisis that lasted for five years. Together, these devastating and simultaneous events have resulted in damage to infrastructure and destroyed livelihoods in this predominantly rural country, where more than 17 million people (or 80% of the population) depend entirely or partly on agriculture or subsistence farming. Climate risks for Madagascar include cyclones, droughts, floods, sea-level rise and extreme temperatures. From 1980 to 2010, 53 natural disasters affected Madagascar and caused economic damage of over US$ 1 billion (World Bank, 2011). Madagascar has one of the highest cyclone risks in Africa with an average of three to four cyclones affecting the country every year. Droughts are common in south Madagascar, which is the hottest and driest part of the country, with some areas receiving less than 400 mm of rainfall each year. At the same time, intense rainfall events caused by strong storms and tropical cyclones can lead to significant and damaging floods across the country.

Description of crop production and post-harvest handling activities and risks faced by smallholder farmers in the country

Post-harvest activities are not well developed by smallholder farmers and they are not aware of post-harvest losses (PHLs) during handling activities and storage. Crop production and utilization are constrained by a set of interrelated factors. Root and tuber crops, like cassava, are processed into high quality cassava flour and starch. Vegetable oils (coconut, peanut, soybeans, cotton and palm) are industrially extracted, or imported oils are locally refined. There is not a particular policy aimed specifically at the food industry, but food-industry related policies are found within agricultural and industrial policy documents. Post-harvest handling activities differ with different crops. For example, after harvesting, the green pods for vanilla are subjected to a post-harvest treatment, which comprises scalding, steaming, natural drying in the sun and shade, followed by packing. The risks faced by farmers include rewetting of products during sun-drying and infestation with pests and microorganisms during storage. This leads to fermentation and loss of quality. For coffee the activities include drying, shelling, sieving and storage. Drying is done on the ground where the coffee cherries can collect soil and lose quality. Shelling is done using a pestle, which breaks and flattens the grains. Sieving is done mechanically, and but this process can also lead to a loss of quality. Products are often stored in sealed bags while wet, which further risks degrading the product. Rice is pounded manually, and this causes a high rate of breakage and deterioration of quality. It is estimated that about 18% of rice production is lost annually through PHLs. The losses are due to field drying (6.8%), threshing (6.5%), winnowing (2.5%) and drying (2.25%) (Rembold et al., 2011).


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