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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Mangos help Madagascar farmers rise from poverty

Partnerships improve quality of produce, provide food security

April 30, 2018

Dan and Elizabeth Turk have served the people of Madagascar for more than 20 years. (Photo by John Martin)

Mangos taste so good that many consider them the world’s best fruit. But they have more qualities than flavor alone. The mango is one of the few tropical fruits that grows well on low-fertility soils and where there is a long dry season. Mangos are sold in local markets throughout the tropical world but can also be processed into dried fruit, drinks, pickles and chutney. Mango wood burns well and makes good charcoal.

Because of the ideal climate over much of the western part of the island, Madagascar is a major producer of mangos. But most mangos currently grown in Madagascar are seedlings of low quality that were not planted and have received no horticultural attention. There is enormous potential for improving mango production by growing selected grafted varieties. Grafting allows the opportunity to choose varieties that are highly productive and disease-resistant, with large, low-fiber fruit of superior taste. And grafted trees begin bearing fruit earlier than seedling trees. By growing grafted commercial-quality mangos, farmers can improve their lives by increasing their income and contributing to families’ food security.

 Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with some of the highest chronic childhood malnutrition. Fiangonan’i Jesoa Kristy eto Madagasikara (FJKM), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partner denomination in Madagascar, believes that as Christians, we should help our neighbors both spiritually and physically. Reducing poverty and improving food security are important components of FJKM’s outreach efforts, and growing mangos and other fruits fits well with FJKM’s strategic vision. FJKM’s Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education (FVEE) Project, supported by funding from PC(USA) sources, is very involved in developing fruit in Madagascar.

As the elevation at the capital city of Antananarivo is too high for mangos to produce good crops, FJKM looked to find a location more to the west at lower elevation for its mango efforts. In 2015, with the help of local FJKM pastor Niaina Raoelison, a growing spot was identified at Mahatsinjo Maevatanana, less than four hours from the capital.

In October 2016, Harifidy Andriamanantsoa, pastor of the Mahatsinjo FJKM church (and wife of Niaina), led a dedication service preceding the placement of a stone to mark the project’s commitment to establishing a fruit center. The new president of FJKM, pastor Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi, preached from Ezekiel 36:30: “And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, that you may not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.”

Water reservoir under construction at the fruit center, Rolland Razafiarison on right. (Photo by Dan Turk)

About a month later, construction began on a two-story multipurpose building where a nursery worker could live upstairs and a large room downstairs could be used for conducting training. This building was completed and dedicated in May 2017. In January 2017, a temporary nursery was installed. By June 2017, about 270 fruit trees had been planted, including 60 mango trees belonging to 23 selected varieties.

An irrigation system was installed at the fruit center early this year. The system provides drinking water for the center and the nearby village of Ambararata. Fruit trees and native trees will also be planted at local schools and public places in the Mahatsinjo community.

This year, training will begin at the fruit center to help local farmers and church groups learn to grow mango trees and to propagate them by grafting. A mango revolution is in progress in Madagascar; the FJKM church in partnership with the PC(USA) is working to make sure that Madagascar’s subsistence farmers fully benefit from the potential of superior mango varieties that they can propagate themselves.

These programs are possible because of the collective effort of many organizations, including the Presbyterian Answer to Hunger (PATH) Committee of Central Florida Presbytery that has supported the FVEE project for many years with funds collected from the 2 cents a meal program at Presbyterian churches. Others include Park Lake Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida; First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. The Watersheds Foundation has provided generous ongoing support, and ECHO in North Fort Myers, Florida, helped tremendously in the process of getting grafted mango trees of selected varieties from Florida to Madagascar.

 Dan Turk, Madagascar Mission Co-Worker, serving at the invitation of the Church for Jesus Christ in Madagascar

Today’s Focus:  Madagascar farmers

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers

Dan Turk, Madagascar
Elizabeth Turk, Madagascar
Michael Weller, Ethiopia
Rachel Weller, Ethiopia

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Shelly Lewis, PMA
Tony Lewis, PPC

Let us pray:

O God, our guiding hand, reveal your giving presence as we seek to serve even when our visible resources seem scarce. Thank you for your movement among the faithful and the ways in which you lead us from doubt into wonder. Let every tongue speak with joy the beautiful name of Jesus. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 97; 145
First Reading Leviticus 16:1-19
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Gospel Reading Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Evening Psalms 124; 115