A Letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar
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Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) Update
Much has happened with the Fruits, Vegetables and Environmental Education (FVEE) Program of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) over the past few months. Since travel restrictions within Madagascar due to COVID-19 were largely lifted in mid-October, FVEE program personnel have been very busy starting new fruit nurseries, hosting student interns from the FJKM University, training seminary students, helping the FJKM plant fast-growing trees, and doing ongoing activities at the fruit center at Mahatsinjo. A very successful virtual Madagascar Mission Network conference has strengthened relations among supporters of the FJKM in the US. Here is the video about the FVEE program’s fruit work that was presented at the conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwNrFoMMJ1Q&t=35s.
The FJKM asked the FVEE program to establish a tree nursery and orchard for a new FJKM agricultural high school about 50 km NW of Antananarivo at Fihaonana that is scheduled to begin classes in the 2021-2022 school year. FJKM President Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi (under umbrella) presided at the inauguration of the new nursery and orchard on 20 November 2020.
The new fruit nursery and orchard will serve primarily as sites where high school students can learn about growing fruit trees. It will be managed on a sustainable basis with income primarily from the sale of grafted fruit trees.
Diagram of the nursery and orchard at the new FJKM agricultural high school at Fihaonana. The 75+ fruit trees and 12 native palms have all been planted. All infrastructures were started and completed in just over a month.
Seminary students at Mandritsara potted up the 40 grafted mango trees that FVEE program technical director Rolland Razafiarison brought when he took Jeremia Ratsirahonana to Mandritsara. These trees will eventually be moved to the new nursery where they will serve as sources of scions for grafting.
The new nursery at Mandritsara is at an excellent location right on the main road that comes from Antsohihy (but don’t be fooled: the road from Antsohihy is a single-lane dirt road; only a small stretch near Mandritsara is paved). Note house under construction in background.
The house on the grounds of the new nursery where Jeremia Ratsirahonana will live, late December 2020 (same house as in previous photograph) is almost complete. The house and other infrastructures for the nursery should be completed early in 2021 (photo posted on Facebook).
The temporary nursery at Mandritsara started by Jeremia Ratsirahonana, late December 2020, with mango seedlings grown as rootstocks is doing well. All trees will be moved to the permanent nursery once the house there is finished, and the nursery fenced in.
The FVEE did a training for members of the Ankaramena FJKM church in south central Madagascar in October on how to grow and graft mangos. At that time, FVEE technical personnel Rolland Razafiarison and Germain Andrianaivoson helped the church organize a committee to help dig a well and build a wall around the church property for setting up a church-run mango nursery. The FJKM church at Ankaramena is right on National Road #7, the main road to southern Madagascar. When operational, the new nursery will be in an ideal position to provide grafted mango trees for much of southern Madagascar. After the nursery is set up, the FVEE will support the operation of the nursery for 3 years. After that, the nursery will be sustainably managed by the FJKM church at Ankaramena.
On 8 December, FJKM Secretary General Pastor Jonah Radimisaon presided at the ceremony for starting the foundation for the wall at the Ankaramena FJKM church; Rolland Razafiarison took the selfie.
The bricks and stones for the wall at the Ankaramena church are already on site so the construction should proceed to completion in early 2021.
Johary Rafanomezantsoa was selected by the FJKM church at Ankaramena to become the nursery worker. He is now receiving training at the FJKM fruit center at Mahatsinjo.
Perennial peanut plants provide oxygen fixation, esthetics and protection from grass fires and erosion at the fruit center of the fruit center. The photo taken at the fruit center at Mahatsinjo on 29 December 2020 shows that the perennial peanut has recovered well after the long dry season.
Mango Season at the Mango Palace
Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education (FVEE) Program
Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM)
The Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education (FVEE) Program of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), which is the PC(USA)’s partner denomination in Madagascar, first planted mango trees at the fruit center at Mahatsinjo (the Mango Palace) in January 2017. As the trees grow, each year more varieties produce fruits for the first time. These varieties include many that are among the best from many parts of the world such as Alphonso, Kesar and Mallika from India; Kensington from Australia; Julie from the Caribbean; Okrung and Maha Chanook from Thailand; and Carrie, Kent, and Tommy Atkins from the USA.
Some of the 20+ varieties of mangos that produced fruits at the FJKM fruit center at Mahatsinjo (=Mango Palace), in the 2020-2021 season. 54 mango varieties have thus far been planted in the ground at the Mango Palace with another 30+ varieties growing in pots for security purposes while being propagated. Seeing (and eating) the fruits is very encouraging for all involved with the Mango Palace.
The Mango Palace in March 2020. The mango palace is a place where numerous mango varieties are grown, evaluated, and propagated. Farmers and university students come there to get training in how to grow and graft mango trees and other fruit trees. The excellent mango varieties at the Mango Palace along with the spread of grafting techniques are expected to revolutionize mango growing and greatly contribute to increasing food security in much of western, northern, and southern Madagascar.
Of the few varieties that had ripe fruits in December 2020, Carrie was the consensus best-tasting variety.
Much effort is currently underway at the Mango Palace to increase production of grafted trees in 2021. The process starts with getting seeds for growing rootstocks. Some of the thousands of rootstocks to be grafted with good varieties at the fruit center in 2021.
Germain Andrianaivoson leading a training in how to grow and graft mango trees at the FJKM church at Ankaramena in south central Madagascar in October 2020. Each participant received grafted mango trees from the Mango Palace to plant on her/his land. In 2021 there will be similar trainings at Ankaramena, at Mandritsara in northern Madagascar, and at the Mango Palace.
A heartfelt thank you to all who have helped provide funds for the development of the Mango Palace and for the FVEE program in general. Please know that your assistance is producing fruits for God’s glory!
-Dan Turk, PC(USA) mission co-worker, December 2020; photos by Rolland Razafiarison, Germain Andrianaivoson, and Dan Turk
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