Former Lead Farmer Continues to Promote Agriculture in Tsarasaotra

Solofo with his wife and daughter.

Solofo Rakoarimanana started his professional career as a primary schoolteacher west of Antananarivo, but he dreamed of being a farmer. In 2009, Solofo returned home to his village of Imaitso in the Tsarasaotra commune to start a new life.

His return to Tsarasaotra could not have been better planned. The SALOHI project was just beginning, and ADRA Madagascar was implementing it in parts of the central highland region of Amoron’i Mania, including Tsarasaotra. The SALOHI project aimed to improve food security through three strategic objectives: mother and child health, livelihoods, and resilience.

Solofo’s agricultural ventures started small, but ADRA and the SALOHI project were there to help. To increase livelihoods of small farmers like Solofo, ADRA organized Farmer Field School (FFS) groups. In Farmer Field Schools, farmers practiced new and improved agricultural techniques in a lead farmer’s field. Solofo became a lead farmer of an FFS group and over the years, he grew in his knowledge of agriculture.

With the knowledge and experience gained from SALOHI, Solofo started working as an agricultural trainer for other development projects. He enlisted fellow lead farmers from SALOHI to get involved and helped them get bean seed grants, Guanomad fertilizer, and other materials from these projects.

Currently, Solofo is the head of sector for Lecofruit, a European company that buys vegetables directly from farmers to sell to large consumer markets and export to Europe. Solofo supervises eight groups of vegetable producers, around 40 farmers, most of which came from SALOHI FFS groups. These farmers produce high quality peas and green beans for Lecofruit and can easily calculate their cost and profit from this operation.

FFS groups were extremely successful in Tsarasaotra during the SALOHI project. Through FFS, 92 percent of farmers adopted new techniques, greatly exceeding the project target of 50 percent. Although the USAID-funded SALOHI project ended in 2014, it continues to impact the region through the farmers whose lives have been changed. Thanks to ADRA, Solofo Rakoarimanana, a former schoolteacher, realized his dream and is now a leader of agriculture in his commune.

- Renee Cerovski and John Ravelomanantsoa

Note: ADRA worked in six fokontany in Tsarasaotra in the SALOHI project. The project achieved substantial success, especially in the areas of livelihoods and resilience. But to continue SALOHI’s fight against malnutrition in this area, ADRA will continue to implement health activities in Tsarasaotra under the ASOTRY project. ASOTRY operates in the same six fokontany in the Tsarasaotra commune, serving a population of 5,116.

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