Madagascar: gari, an alternative choice to

One and a half million inhabitants or half the population of the great south of Madagascar are in a state of food insecurity. In addition to the distribution of emergency food, initiatives have been launched to provide households with a long-term solution. In three regions in the far south of Madagascar, hundreds of producers have begun converting cassava into gari to cope with the lean season.

In the small space of the Mitambatra Soa Association, in the town of Bevala, a dozen women peel and cut pieces of cassava. “Before, we used to cook cassava like that to eat it,” explains Vola, president of the cooperative, farmer and mother of 12 children. “After we dug it up, we put it in the sun to dry it out and try to keep it longer, but eventually it rotted. We could not keep him for more than three months. So we worked together among cassava producers to find a solution and keep it longer. “

Here the cassava does not end up directly in the pots, it is crushed, fermented, shaken and dried first to obtain a thick flour. Therefore, 240 to 480 kilos of gari are produced per day. “The World Food Program gave us these machines and we started the treatment. Now you can keep it for three years and it is much easier to cook. When the water boils, we add gari with a little sugar and it is ready. In five minutes it’s done. Even a six-month-old can eat it, ”adds Vola.

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Eat your fullness and get paid with gari

This initiative has made it possible to improve the daily lives of more than 38,000 inhabitants in the three regions where it is established. Among them Edwige Maho, mother of 10 children, farmer and member of the Bevala cooperative.

“It changed our lives, because right now my children are all healthy. Before, we threw our cassava away or sold it very quickly and cheaply before it was no longer good and we were very affected by famine. But now that the lean season is coming, we have gari in reserve and we can eat often, ”she is satisfied.

On site, gari allows you to eat your fullness, but also provides a source of income for the women of the association. “We bake bread, cakes and sambos and donuts, and we sell them,” explains Edwige Maho.

A majority of female managers of production units

Among the 200 managers of the flour production units in the far south, 60% are women. At the entrance to the room, Vola places biscuits made of gari in large plastic boxes.

“We sold lots of cassava on the market. Five coins for 1000 variants and even sometimes only for 400 variants. But now by selling the flour or the gari-based cookies, you earn between 4000 and 5000 varieties, ”says Vola.

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