TSIRO Alliance in Madagascar

The TSIRO Alliance in the media

Discover the TSIRO Alliance in Madagascar through articles from renowned publications worldwide. Explore authentic stories and on-the-ground insights that bring the essence of TSIRO’s work to life.

Confectionary News

Thriving Ecosystems: How the TSIRO Alliance in Madagascar redefines success for specialty cocoa.
Among other ambitious targets, a goal of the TSIRO Alliance in Madagascar is to ‘conserve biodiverse ecosystems.’ It’s a tall order, but one that the program is uniquely designed to meet.

Chocolate pieces piled up surrounded by cocoa powder

National Geographic

How the world’s best chocolate is getting even better.
In Madagascar, an updated approach to producing cocoa, the main ingredient in the world’s favorite Halloween treats, is protecting the country’s endangered lemurs.

Biodiversity Links

Together, We Thrive: How Community Support Can Make a Difference in Forest Conservation.
Analysis of early data from a USAID-funded activity in Madagascar may reveal an important insight into how best to protect forests, encourage tree planting, and improve human well-being. 

Fine Chocolate Industry Association logo
USAID logo
Catholic Relief Services logo
Guittard Chocolate Company-Logo
Akesson's logo
Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund logo
Map of Africa showing Madagascar off the east coast

Map of the TSIRO intervention area in Madagascar.
How is the TSIRO Alliance funded?

The TSIRO Alliance is a joint initiative of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Catholic Relief Services, the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, and the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, as well as private sector companies Madecasse-Beyond Good, Guittard Chocolate, Akesson’s Organic and Sahanala Madagascar.

Over a five-year period, the alliance will invest $5.8 million, dedicated to conserving biodiversity and improving the well-being and prosperity of local communities in Madagascar through sustainable fine cacao and spice production.

How will TSIRO help the farmers in Madagascar?

Farm Management Training

Two thousand Malagasy farmers will receive hands-on training in various agroforestry practices and the planting, maintaining, and harvesting of cacao and other spices. TSIRO will establish demonstration plots in strategic areas of the program area and will organize training, exchange visits, and pilot innovative techniques. Additionally, field technicians will conduct site visits to individual farm plots to provide more site-specific support.

Vocational Training

TSIRO will also support a vocational training/education program to encourage youth to learn cacao and spice production techniques, literacy, numeracy, and languages linked to economically viable and environmentally friendly opportunities. For example, Akesson’s Organic and Guittard Chocolate will reutilize plastic to build/sell bricks or green charcoal that could provide energy for value chain activities.

Tree Nurseries and Agroforestry

TSIRO will continue to support existing and new tree nurseries. Access to inputs is critical for farmers to expand the production of key cacao and spice trees and plants. To diversify production, agroforestry systems will also include fruit trees, endemic trees, and other trees & plants such as fruits, medicinal plants, and others.

Post-Harvest Materials & Training

To increase cacao quality, the Alliance will provide fermentation boxes and drying pads. In addition, TSIRO will train farmers on fermenting and drying techniques to produce fine flavor cacao using fermentation boxes rather than banana leaf fermentation. Fermentation centers will be developed on larger farm plots or community sites for optimal “bulking” of farmers’ products and leveraging markets to larger buyers, including TSIRO partners Beyond Good, Guittard, and Akesson’s.

Business Development Tools & Infrastructure

The TSIRO Alliance will provide basic tools, infrastructure, and supplies to improve farmers’ business management skills & access to financing early in the project (Years 1 and 2).  As businesses grow, TSIRO also plans to bring a Business Services Development Specialist on board to support well-performing farmers groups to become “investment ready.”

Basic Financial Education

Through CRS’ Savings and Internal Lending Committees (SILC) approach, 4,000 young people will learn basic financial skills. Youth participants will learn financial management, and household budgeting and have access to small loans that can cover costs for agricultural inputs or other needed items and also save money for education or health fees.

Basic & Advanced Marketing Training

CRS will work with private sector partners and field technicians to roll out a basic and advanced marketing curriculum. Further, CRS will work with farmers to incorporate and learn to collect data on farms using Farm Trace software. TSIRO will also work with private sector partners to strengthen Farm Trace systems (environmental and supply chain data) to help better monitor and adaptively manage the different parts of the supply chain to make it more efficient and effective.

Land Tenure & Land Rights

The TSIRO Alliance will conduct a land tenure assessment in the first year to determine the true nature of land tenure in target communities. In communes where land tenure impedes agricultural production or farmer safety, TSIRO will help secure land rights for farmers to the extent possible.  Finally, TSIRO will determine if resources are available to support land tenure programming in these areas by working with the local government and the World Bank Land Tenure Program.

Why is Madagascar’s biodiversity at risk?

Madagascar consists of 95% of the land that makes up the Madagascar & Indian Ocean global biodiversity hotspot; One of the 36 priority areas identified worldwide. The extreme diversity and high levels of taxonomic endemism combined with the high levels of degraded natural ecosystems make Madagascar a global priority for conservation and biodiversity investments.

The Tsaratanana Forest Corridor (COMATSA) and the Fandriana-Vondrozo Forest Corridor (COFAV) landscapes are important ecological zones under threat. Located in the northeast and the southeast of Madagascar, both have a high potential for sustainable agricultural production. However, poverty, malnutrition, and a lack of access to essential resources such as education, training, and inputs contribute to their degradation.

Because more than 90% of animals live in forests or woodland, deforestation has a devastating effect on Madagascar’s wildlife. Of the world’s 25 most endangered primates, six are Madagascar lemurs. According to the World Bank, slash-and-burn agriculture (tavy) accounts for 80 to 95% of deforestation. Fuelwood collection and charcoal production using timber from non-plantation forests account for 5 to 20% of deforestation. Seventy percent (70%) of the population uses wood, and 26% use charcoal as the primary cooking fuel per United Nations (UN). Indirect drivers include poverty, lack of infrastructure and investment in agricultural productivity, illegal timber exploitation and artisanal mining, poor governance, and corruption.

What is TSIRO’s Theory of Change?

TSIRO Alliance’s Theory of Change fruits from a strong analysis of evidence-based approaches and promising practices that partners have implemented in Madagascar and other countries:

The TSIRO Alliance believes that

  • IF markets incentivize rural farmers (including youth) and farmer groups to improve and scale up sustainable fine cacao and spice-based agroforestry systems (integrated with spices, fruit, and endemic trees/plants) that increase forest and biologically diverse habitats; and
  • IF rural farmers (including farmer groups) and their families stabilize their incomes through improved resource management and participation in more efficient and well-managed value chains (led by the private sector);
  • IF communities actively engage in environmental stewardship of critical biodiversity and ecosystem services; and
  • IF consumer demand for environmentally friendly and responsible cacao and spice products is increased;
  • THEN biodiverse ecosystems will be conserved, and the well-being of small and medium-holder farmers and communities will be improved in the Tsaratanana (COMATSA) and the Fandriana-Vondrozo Forest Corridor (COFAV) landscapes.
How Will TSIRO Protect Unique Cacao Varieties?

TSIRO Alliance will work with the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP) to identify tree species and farmers interested in and capable of growing unique cacao varietals. Later on, these trees can be designated and scaled up in collaboration with interested private sector partners. TSIRO partner Akesson’s Organic already has HCP designation, while Beyond Good is moving towards designation at some of their farms in the northeast of Madagascar.

Photo Olivia CRS

Olivia Rasolomampianina

Chief of Party at Catholic Relief Services
Email: olivia.rasolomampianina@crs.org