In Madagascar, people receive more than half their daily calories from rice and are known to eat more rice per capita than any other people in the world. Even though the cherished grain is imported into the country in large quantities, demand far exceeds supply. Natural disasters such as floods, drought and hurricanes threaten the available stock and push prices to unaffordable levels.
In the early 1980s, Father Henri de Laulanié, a Jesuit priest of French descent, worked with farmers in Madagascar to develop a new way of rice farming called System of Rice Intensification, or SRI. This method improves soil quality, increases yield up to 100 percent and requires 90 percent fewer seeds at planting time. Catholic Relief Services, with partner Caritas Antsirabe and with the Better U Foundation, is training local farmers to use SRI.
All photos by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS
Sara A. Fajardo is CRS' regional information officer for eastern and southern Africa. She is based in Nairobi, Kenya.