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Erratic Weather Threatens Livelihood of Rice Farmers in Madagascar

05:50 EDT 8 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

Erratic rains and powerful storms, this article says, are threatening rice production in Madagascar and putting the livelihoods of subsistence farmers at risk. Jeanpier Marolahy, who grows rice in the eastern part of the island, says the weather has clearly changed since he was a boy. The wet and dry seasons used to occur in a relatively predictable pattern, he says, but that is no longer the case. Climate scientists agree with Marolahy. Researchers who track temperature at an adjacent national park say the highs and lows in this part of the country have become much more extreme over the last two decades. Celia Harvey, a scientist with Conservation International, agrees. She helped conduct a study in 2014 that looked at how climatic conditions were affecting small-scale farmers in Madagascar. "We found that farmers are experiencing very variable rainfall and very variable crop production," she said. And, she added, these farmers are ill-prepared to deal with such fluctuations. "They have large families. They have very small areas of land. They're very poor. They lack access to basic services. They're really living on the edge in many ways," she says. "So they depend almost entirely on rice production for both their food security and for income generation. So anything that affects their rice production ultimately very quickly undermines their livelihood."

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