As a boy, David, a farmer in the Madagascar town of Mirarisoa, learned about the importance of preserving the environment, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it.
Growing up to become a rice farmer, David and his wife, Mary, struggled to keep their land from eroding due to the barren hillsides. David attempted planting trees, but he didn’t realize that the eucalyptus trees were drying out the soil. The eucalyptus trees weren’t helping matters, and David and Mary worried that the erosion would soon destroy their rice field.
When ADRA field agents visited Mirarisoa, they saw a community on the brink of environmental collapse. They quickly realized that farmers needed to receive training in business and agricultural techniques to solve the lack of food security for families. However, for any of those practices to have a lasting impact, the community needed to start with reforestation, which ADRA implements as part of its collaboration with USAID to support community groups in developing and conserving their natural resources to minimize food insecurity.
The process of planting trees on the land would protect the soil from erosion and help it retain water. However, the right trees—acacia trees—had to be planted to reforest the region. Instead of drying out the soil as the eucalyptus trees had, the acacia trees would retain the water under the ground.
ADRA provided seedlings, equipment, and supplies, as well as offered incentives for community members to help with tree planting. Within two days, 3,000 acacia seedlings dotted the hillside overlooking David and Mary’s rice field.
The following year, David and Mary decided to plant even more trees. They hired workers and brought in friends from the community to help. One month later, they planted an additional 2,500 seedlings, all while continuing to work their rice field. “We were very tired by the end of the month,” says Mary.
Now, the couple looks into the future with confidence knowing their efforts and ADRA’s right trees preserved their farmland. David and Mary don’t envision their kids and grandkids toiling in the boiling heat and desiccated earth. Instead, they see a rich and green future where a forest will safeguard their rice fields for generations to come.
“I hope my grandkids will inherit a good and green environment,” says David. “They will be able to say this is what my grandparents planted for me.”