American Journal of Rural Development
ISSN (Print): 2333-4762 ISSN (Online): 2333-4770 Website: Editor-in-chief: Chi-Ming Lai
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Rural Development. 2016, 4(2), 31-42
DOI: 10.12691/ajrd-4-2-1
Open AccessArticle

The Changing Nature of Agricultural Livelihoods along a Peri-urban to Rural Gradient in Eastern Madagascar

Christoffel den Biggelaar1, and Maya Moore2

1Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Dept., Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA

2Founder and President of Maroantsetra Area Development Association (MADA), Antananarivo, Madagascar

Pub. Date: July 01, 2016

Cite this paper:
Christoffel den Biggelaar and Maya Moore. The Changing Nature of Agricultural Livelihoods along a Peri-urban to Rural Gradient in Eastern Madagascar. American Journal of Rural Development. 2016; 4(2):31-42. doi: 10.12691/ajrd-4-2-1


Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, but with high conservation value due to its many unique, endemic species. Rapid population growth and increasing poverty are leading to growing food insecurity and malnutrition especially in rural areas, putting ever more pressure on remaining natural resources. Ecoagriculture is seen as one approach to address these issues, but the success of introducing new practices is contingent on the specific local conditions and situation of individual households reflected in different livelihood strategies. In order to better orient agricultural training and technical assistance provided by the Madagascar Flora and Fauna Group (MFG), a short survey was done in villages in two areas where MFG operates, at different distance from and ease of access to the city of Tamatave: Parc Ivoloina and the Betampona Integral Nature Reserve. Results show that households in villages around Betampona largely continue to use traditional slash-and-burn methods, with future livelihoods remaining focused on agriculture based on primarily food crop production. Around Parc Ivoloina, households rely more and more on off-farm and non-farm income made possible by its close proximity to Tamatave. People do farm, but are switching to less labor demanding tree crops and livestock more compatible with off-farm jobs, and to keep ancestral land occupied to provide supplementary food and income. The results confirm that farmers are adaptive resource managers, flexibly redirecting their activities, practices and methods as economic and environmental conditions change or opportunities arise.

agriculture rural development livelihood strategies madagascar

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Figure of 4


[1]  Appert, J. “Les Insectes Nuisibles aux Cultures de Madagascar (Notes Techniques).” Bulletin Agronomique No. 22. Paris, France: Institut de Recherches Agronomiques Tropicales et des Cultures Vivrières, 1967.
[2]  den Biggelaar, Christoffel. Farmer Knowledge and Experimentation with Trees and Tree Cultivation in Agroforestry Systems in Rwanda. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 1994.
[3]  Chabrolin, R.” La riziculture de tavy à Madagascar.” L’Agronomie Tropical, Extrait No. 1, Janvier 1963.
[4]  Dez, Jacques. “Tradition et développement rural.” Annales de l’Université de Madagascar 7: 73-115, 1968.
[5]  Dez, Jacques. “Développement économique et tradition à Madagascar”. Humanités, Economie, Ethnologie, Sociologie, Série V No. 4, 1962.
[6]  FAO/WFP. Mission FAO/PAM d’Evaluation de la Securité Alimentaire à Madagascar. Rapport Spéciale, 27 Octobre 2013. Rome: UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme, 2013.
[7]  FAO/IFAD/WFP. The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Rome: UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme, 2015.
[8]  Francois, Edmond. “Le manioc, sa production et son utilisation.” Revue de Botanique Appliquée et d'Agriculture Coloniale 18 (204-205): pp. 533-573 and 18 (206): 692-707, 1938.
[9]  Hume, Douglas W. 2005. Agriculture in Madagascar: Conservation and Cultural Meanings of Rice. Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. Of Anthropology, U. Of Connecticut.
[10]  Kiener, A. “ Le Tavy à Madagascar: Ses différentes formes et dénominations. Bilan de tavy et problèmes humains, moyens de lutte.” Revue Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 90: 9-16, Juillet-Aout 1963.
[11]  Kumar, B.M. and P.K.R. Nair, eds. “Introduction.” Tropical Homegardens: A time-tested example of sustainable agroforestry. Dordrecht, Netherlands : Springer, 2006, 1-10.
[12]  Mémento de l’Agronome 3ème édition. “Manioc“ and «”Riz “. Paris: République Francaise, Ministère de la Coopération, 1980, 502-512 and 526-556.
[13]  Radasimalala, Vonji. “Quatre million de Malgaches menacés: La célébration de la Journée Mondiale de l’Alimentation, hier, a été avare de bonnes nouvelles. La sécurité alimentaire s’aggrave.” Express de Madagascar, 17 octobre 2013.
[14]  Randrianantoandro, Tiana N., Hiroichi Kono and Satoko Kubota. “Knowledge and behavior in an animal disease outbreak – Evidence from the item count technique in a case of African swine fever in Madagascar.”Preventive Veterinary Medicine 118: 483-487. 2015.
[15]  Ramalanjaona, C. and E. Jourdan. L'essence de girofle de Madagascar: Technologie - Distillation - Emballage. Antananarivo: Institut de Recherches Agronomiques à Madagascar, Division de Technologie Agricole, 1961.
[16]  Ravalitera, Pela. “Notes du passé: Les régions à tavy peu desservies par des routes.” Express de Madagascar, 8 juin 2015.
[17]  Ravatsy, Patrick Engels. Evaluation ex-post et appui à la réorientation stratégique d’un projet de restauration forestière autour de la Reserve Naturelle Intégrale de Betampona - Madagascar. Rapport de Stage, Université d’Auvergne-Cerdi, 2013.
[18]  RFI (Radio France International). Madagascar n’a jamais importé autant de riz qu’en 2013. [Online] Available: et Pêches Madagascar [Accessed March 14, 2015].
[19]  Roubaud, Francois. La question rizicole à Madagascar: Les résultats d’une décennie de libéralisation.. Antananarivo, Madagascar: Projet MADIO Rapport No. 9653/E, 1996.
[20]  Sayer, Jeffrey and Bruce Campbell. The Science of Sustainable Development – Local Livelihoods and the Global Environment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2004.
[21]  Small, Rob ad Femke Hoekstra. “Growing a sense of place and community in Cape Town.” Farming Matters 32 (2) 14-17. 2015.
[22]  Tiollier, Marine. L’Implantation de la Culture du Giroflier à Madagascar. Rapport du Stage, SupAGRO Institut des Régions Chaudes. CIRAD Montpellier, France, 2012.
[23]  USAID, Conservation International and Ministère de l'Environnement, Forêts et Tourisme.
[24]  Evolution de la Couverture des Forêts Naturelles à Madagascar: 1990-2000-2005. Antananarivo, Madagascar, USAID, 2009, 30-31 and A25-A26.
[25]  Vandermeer, John and Ivette Perfecto. Breakfast of Biodiversity: The Truth about Rain Forest Destruction. Institute for Food and Development Policy, Oakland, California, 1995.