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Potatoes - Micro credit's poster child?

Planting potatoes in rurla Madagascar - zahanaOne of our most successful microcredit projects was to introduce potatoes in Fiarenana. Intended as an in-between crop for the time after the rice harvest and before the new rice planting. The project was so successful that we repeated it a second time the following year. You can read all about it the past success in our ‘potato story’.

One of most puzzling experiences in participatory community development endeavors was, that the potato project did not continue a third time, let alone become a new tradition, such as tree planting every year. It sure was not for the lack of trying, hence the use of the word ‘puzzling’. We, that is Zahana, had been asking at certain intervals what happened to the potato project, and why they decided not to repeat it, despite an amazing harvest (two tons of potatoes with 50kg planting stock). All inquiries were met with very polite silence. In Malagasy culture not talking about something is also an answer. Despite our continuing curiosity or interest, why this most successful project did not continue, we got the message and at some time politely stopped asking. While this is frustrating for us, because we would really like to know what kind of impediments or difficulties might need to be addressed, we needed to take a step back and just ‘let it be’.
Needless to say that we were delighted when our schoolteacher in Fiadanana approached us with a request for potatoes. His, the neighboring village, did not participate the last time. What you see in the photo is a sack full of potatoes that was entrusted to him for a new micro credit ‘potato project’.

Now we just have to wait and see, with great anticipation, if potatoes might take off this time around. Three is a charm after all. And, we have a certain inkling based on experience, that this project has a huge potential for success.

Potatoes planted by zahana in rural madagascar