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SPICES: Green gold, Forest, Families and Food - SPICES = Securing and Protecting Investments & Capacities for Environmental Sustainability

Resilient, sustainable systems for food and nutrition security and protecting ecological systems and biodiversity.

Photo of Elizabeth Wardle
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Catholic Relief Services – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (CRS/CRS-USCCB)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Other organizations include: Direct Implementing Partners Centre Val Bio • Small NGO/Researcher Institution (under 50 employees) Diocese of Mananjary • Work through local parishes and schools to mobilize youth, parents and communities for reforestation. • Church land has been dedicated to tree nurseries and large-scale reforestation in some locations. Collaborative Partners Government of Madagascar: Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Public Health and National Office of Nutrition • Align activities with national polices/strategies and regional/district/commune level priorities for natural resource management and watershed protection/development, health/nutrition activities and agriculture Private Sector Enterprises • 8-10 small/medium spice focused enterprises provide technical assistance, inputs and purchase products from farmers for export and/or national distribution

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Baltimore, Maryland

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Ranomafana National Park and Ambositra-Vondrozo Forest Corridor National Park (COFAV), and peripheral landscapes, South east Madagascar.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Republic of Madagascar

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

CRS has been working in the southeast of Madagascar on food security, WASH, health and emergency work for over 50 years. Working with local partners, CRS has engaged with communities across the region to support response after cyclones/floods, strengthen livelihoods and local governance. CRS has witnessed how years of political instability and weak governance systems, have had devastating effects on communities (high rates of malnutrition, increased poverty), forests (deforestation for survival) and biodiversity (decreased forest coverage).

The Valbio Center (CVB) was established by Dr Patricia Wright and colleagues who worked to create the Ranomafana National Park (RNP) in 1991 at the northern end of Ambositra-Vondrozo Forest Corridor Natural Resource Reserve (COFAV). CVB and CRS began working together in joint reforestation activities in 2015.

CRS’ food and nutrition security programming had helped structure producers’ groups and cooperatives, and provided training on the introduction of high-value crops and agroforestry systems and linking groups to services and buyers; soon local and international spice companies sought CRS’s help to reach producers, resulting in long-term selling and support agreements by which the companies help producers increase processing value-added to meet export standards.  Turmeric farmers increased revenues four-fold within two years and more farmers began to apply agroforestry methods to cultivate high value spice crops (vanilla, turmeric, cloves), fruits and vegetables and plant indigenous hardwood and fruit trees for shade and moisture, restoring degraded forests. 

Bringing together CRS’s ground experience and CVB’s expertise, SPICES is a proven way to reconcile environmental protection with tangible benefits for very poor producers. The SPICES model brings together economic opportunities helping households improve their wellbeing and contributes to protecting and expanding the forest and biodiversity.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

A place of stunning beauty and immense natural diversity, Ranomafana National Park (RNP) is located in the Fianarantsoa Province of southeastern Madagascar. The park is on the edge of Madagascar’s High Plateau; it is extremely mountainous, with elevations ranging from 500 to 1,500 meters. The steepness of the slopes had preserved the park from exploitation before 1986. The park is divided into a core protected zone of 41,500 hectares surrounded by a peripheral zone in which some exploitation of the forest is permitted. The immediate peripheral zone contains more than 100 villages with over 25,000 residents total.  Ranomafana is about a 10-hour drive from Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. The wider periphervy of the COFAV corridor has a population of about 500,000.

Dr. Patricia Wright, founder of CVB, discovered a new lemur species in the 1980s and subsequently worked with the government of Madagascar to create a National Park to protect its unique biodiversity.  It became the fourth national park in Madagascar when it was inaugurated on May 31, 1991. Also famous for its hot springs (Rano mafana = hot water in Malagasy), the lively town of Ranomafana is eight kilometers from the national forest and brings thousands of national and international visitors each year.

 Over 80% of the population residing in the periphery of the RNP are  farmers with small  plots of land (< 1 hectare) Most  smallholder households (SHH  live in cyclone/flood prone areas and produce climate vulnerable staple crops (rice, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, legumes).  Fruits and vegetables are also cultivated.  Main cash crops are coffee, bananas, vanilla and other spices.[1] The performance of the agricultural sector is characterized by low productivity.

People have been acutely affected by political crises, cyclones, floods, so use trees for firewood, charcoal (to use or sell) and  extend land holdings by clearing and burning to plant rice and secure usufruct rights.

 Population growth and high birth rates have increased populations / density by one third to one half in peripheral communes over the last twenty years. People want better livelihoods and are extremely motivated to improve the situation of their children.  They welcome assistance as they hope to improve living conditions and long-term prospects. Madagascar has the fourth highest rate of stunting in the world (47%) and the region has stunting rates of 50% and up to 60%. The regional rate for acute child malnutrition is highest in Madagascar, at 13% and low birth weight rates at 26%.  The region also has low education outcomes: 18% of children complete primary school, 10%  secondary schooling. 28% of children under two  are fully vaccinated, which is close to the national average pointing to the willingness of people to use available health services. 




What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Anthropogenically transformed land in peripheral RNP zones is encroaching on intact habitat and land use practices (slash and burn or tavy) depleting soil nutrients. Agricultural productivity has also been depleted by erosion, as slopes are bared by deforestation and clearing, driving further clearing.
Low dietary diversity contributes to child malnutrition; most smalholders have privileged staple crops to produce high quantities.  It is also due to low education, sub-optimal nutrition/hygiene behaviors (i.e. porridges for babies made with rice and water or tea). Chronic malnutrition is related to water quality and management; malaria and water borne disease rates are very high. In a recent CRS  food security program nutrition improved with ready take-up of more diverse diets and behavior change.
76% of Madagascar’s households depend on agriculture.[1] Per worker, added value fell from US $250 in 1980 to about US $175 in 2014.[2]  Agriculture’s contibution to the GDP fell from 36. percent in 1994 to 24% in 2018, but value added has consistently risen. Spice exports had a value of US$666.3M and 26% of total exports in 2019.[3]  Madagascar is the largest exporter of vanilla and one of the top five of cinnamon.[4]  
A third of people in the RNP periphery depend on protected area resources.  They are attached to the land of their ancestors. Attachment explains why agriculture remains the main economic activity of men (77%), women (73%) and 60% of young people[5]. 85% of working age children of agricultural households.[6]
Women identify themselves as farmers but division of cultivation tasks is gendered and Women are largely excluded from community governance structures.
Technology.  7% of rural dwellings are electrified[7], hence high dependence on wood and charcoal. About 28% of households have a mobile phone and 35% a radio. Limited information and price uncertainty impede technological investment, along with limited access to inputs (seeds, small equipment), finance.
Policy. There is consensus that sustainable agriculture promises inclusive growth and poverty reduction; national policy is directed to this end. Madagascar is very connected to the U.S.A. food system and is the fifth highest African exporter to the USA. Products are primarily spices such as vanilla. Cloves, essential oils, cocoa, cinnamon, and turmeric are growing exports grown within the RNP periphery.

[1] Vice Primature Chargée de l’Economie et de l’Industrie / United Nations Development Programme. Enquête Nationale sur l’emploi et le secteur informel. 2012 

[2] Food and Agriculture Organization. FAO statistical yearbook - Madagascar.  Accessed 23 July 2018.


[4] World Bank. Madagascar: economic update. 2019.

[5] International Monetary Fund / République de Madagascar. Economic Development Report. 2017

[6] Op cit. Enquête Nationale sur l’emploi et le secteur informel. 2012 Agroforestry will allow the 1000 participating SHF 

[7] Op cit. ENSOMD. Objectif 1 : Préserver l’environnement. 2014

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Environment. The agroforestry systems proposed by SPICES densify production and maximize land, critical to smalholders.[1] The systems produce fodder and fuel. They incorporate extensive planting of indigenous hardwoods to restore degraded forest. Energy technologies (green charcoal, improved cookstoves, solar energy, wind turbines) will also protect forests. This will be done via youth groups and private sector companies and can increase spice crop value (i.e. green charcoal, planting trees, etc.).
Diversified production (fruits and vegetables), increased revenue and health services and nutrition mobilization will reduce chronic undernutrition by up to 10% and acute child malnutrition to under 5%.
Experience shows that a 150m2 plot can produce, in addition to fruit and vegetables, quantities of spices multiplying annual revenues ten-fold. This will allow households to generate cash to purchase nutritious foods and invest in education and critical family needs. Saving groups help SHH manage resources.
CRS has brokered linkages between spice companies and producers’ groups, by which, companies provide support to help producers meet export standards and add processing value.
Women’s high participation in agriculture gives basis to SPICE’s efforts to contribute to transformative change though their participation in community decision-making. RNP children are measurably aware of environmental issues and relate them to human activities thanks to awareness actions led by CVB.[1] We are working with communities to help them map land use and design and implement and zoning and restoration strategies (for agriculture, protected areas, water management).
SPICES brings technologies for landscape and water management yielding impactful returns to landscape and human health. SPICES will help local authorities lobby for network extension. The project provides radios and broadcasts radio shows on climate, climate smart techniques and markets.  A network of community managed seed- and seedling nurseries supplies affordable and accessible high-quality spice and indigenous tree variety inputs across the RNP area.
Policy. SPICES builds on opportunities given by Madagascar’s environmental and development plans. Farmers see the potential of spice production, but lack necessary inputs (quality seeds, saplings), training (processing, soil conservation, organic), organizational capacity (cooperative structures, financial management). However, local businesses are developing models (like those that CRS has already piloted). Madagascar’s recent joining of the global AFR100 initiative ( and national efforts to boost reforestation align with these models.  

[1] Kaisa Korhonen * & Anu Lappalainen (2004) Environmental awareness of children and adolescents in the Ranomafana region, Madagascar, Environmental Education Research, 10:2, 195-216, DOI: 10.1080/13504620242000198177

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Local maxim grounding SPICES; “Hazo nambolena antampotanety, koa sady manome aloka no manome loharano.” A planted tree gives shade but is also a spring/source.

Rural families achieve a living income, are resilient, and prosper in sustainable landscapes. The global appetite for vanilla, cloves, cocoa and other spices is harnessed to drive sustainable, regenerative agriculture, protection of biodiversity and investment in health and education. Degraded land and water resources are restored at multiple scales through water-smart agriculture and environmental conservation and restored ecosystem services.  SHFs’ incomes are increased with diversified and stable integrated agroforestry systems imbuilding their resilience) to withstand climatic shocks and stressors and bounce back better after crises.  

Agricultural households attain living incomes and food security. Agricultural cooperatives and groups representing all members of agricultural households secure access to inputs and local, regional, and international markets on terms favorable to members.Livelihoods diversification is sustained by adoption of viable agricultural practices (SPICES, small livestock, pisciculture, bee-keeping).

Community and local governments inclusive of women and young people engage in and sustain actions to protect forest resources and biodiversity.

The effects of climate and environmental change are monitored. Preventable and environmentally-related illnesses (malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, acute infections) are reduced. Health services provide high quality maternal and child health services.

Purification and maintenance systems and services provide clean drinking water. Young people and care groups advance community take-up of hygiene practices (sanitation and use of latrines, hand-washing).

Education quality is high and teachers have improved competencies and pedagogical tools through collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Engagement and empowerment of community stakeholders
SPICES is based on the principle that viable local conservation, forest management and livelihood systems need nurturing and depend on the full engagement of local residents.  This means that SPICES aims above all to result in community-driven conservation, through local land use management mechanisms and social services and livelihoods to curtail forest and wild life destruction.  
Inclusive value chain development improving work opportunities and conservation
SPICES promotes agricultural value chains which directly contribute to conservation and restoration and which are  most likely to increase revenues, inclusive decent work, food security and nutrition.
The project will help small holders to diversify as well as to improve and intensify production, and increase benefits for poor people in value chains linked to local, national as well as international markets.
Supporting sustainable land use well beyond the immediate vicinity of protected areas to restore and protect COFAV’s integrity
SPICES covers protected mixed-use areas as well as non-protected forest fragments and agricultural land surrounding COFAV.  The project aims to support reforestation activities to densify and extend forest fragments in order to restore and protect COFAV’s integrity, but also to improve land use well beyond its borders to consolidate sustainable land use.
Long-term and responsive programming
SPICES is planned in three phases over a period of ten years: two years for startup and refinement, five years to extend activities and three years to consolidate results.
SPICES does not promise quick impact. Its activities are intended to secure incremental progress towards lasting and tangible gains in forest cover and in the well-being of rural agricultural households; the design of specific objectives and activities will remain flexible to meet the interests and needs of community stakeholders.
Diversity and equality
SPICES’ emphasis on developing community capacities takes into account that different livelihoods and social groups have different concerns, and different abilities to promote them.  Work with communities to define objectives and design activities will be informed by analysis of diversity in order to generate understanding and recognition of the importance of equitable strategies, and community monitoring of results will track disaggregated indicators.   The project will work particularly with young women and men, in recognition that improvements in wellbeing and development in Madagascar very much depend on making sure that its growing number of young people and children have better education and health as well as sustainable decent work.
SPICES mainstreams gender equality.  Women do not have secure access to land and derive much less revenue from agricultural activities than men, but their high rate of participation in agriculture gives a basis to the project’s efforts to contribute to transformative change.
Complementarity and contributions to meeting conservation, biodiversity and development goals
SPICES is informed by Madagascar’s commitments and public and NGO-led activities, most notably in the frameworks of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Framework Convention on Climate Change, AFR 100, along with Madagascar’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDDD+) programme.
SPICES will respect Climate, Community and Biodiversity standards.  It is not however designed to create carbon emission reduction credits in its first phase; at this point in time, this would detract from activities to meet more immediate objectives. It will allow for possible future participation in Madagascar’s carbon emissions reduction and credit programmes.
SPICES is also designed to build on past COFAV protection initiatives and to contribute both to current and planned actions.  For example, Conservation International is undertaking in COFAV a five-year project to help vulnerable small farmers adapt to climate change risks and access financial support, which one of the first projects to be funded by the Green Climate Fund in the world.  SPICES activities will be linked with this project.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

Over the refinement Phase, the SPICES team fleshed out our Vision by articulating links with national land-use and management processes and systems and incorporating ICT4D for 1- monitoring farm profits and 2- to track both production and produce movement along the value chain with block chain software.

Before COVID outbreak, SPICES staff held targeted consultations with institutional and community stakeholders.

CRS also organized support missions led by CRS technical specialists. The first centered on exchanges with local communities and field observations to identify issues and challenges of current land use and management practices and wide-scale and mosaic restoration opportunities.

The second, led by a value chain specialist, focused on identifying producer support needs and strategies for scaling take-up of the SPICES-promoted agroforestry techniques and incorporation of ICT4D technologies, through one-to one discussions with farmers, farm visits and meetings with buyers.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

Fokontany (village) presidents

National, Regional and District representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing and of WASH.

Commune Mayors

Cooperative members


 Private sector partners (ex. Sahanala, Floribis) and platforms (Symabio- a collective of 40 some organic producers)

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

1.Targeted consultations: Face to face Meetings were held with about 100 cooperative members (30%women and 70%men aged 18-65; 40% under 30). Meetings were also held with about 40 locally based governmental representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing and of WASH at regional level. We reviewed and validated the SPICES' theory of change in these meetings, which was prepared in December 2019 in an open workshop with 50+ community, youth group and cooperative members rwith women men and young people equally represented.

2. The community development and land-use planning mission involved visits and open discussions in about 10 villages in SPICES localities.  At least 10 village residents of all ages and both sexes, in addition to village presidents, took part in discussions and walks through village lands.

3. The value chain mission involved discussions with and visits to the plots of approximately 30 male and female ginger, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon growers. Meetings were held with 6 different Madagascar companies each with an express and demonstrated commitment to  sustainable agricultural, partnerships with small holder producers and improving small holder farmer livelihoods and well-being.

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

The main signal emerging from targeted consultations was the expediency of linking SPICES with formal local development and land use planning: the Schema d’Amenagement Communal (SAC) system. SAC are the most local unit of the national land use planning system: they are meant to crystallize though participative processes, common visions and objectives for long-term (15 years) commune land use and development. The SAC system was initiated in 2011, but communes in the SPICES area have not yet prepared them. Consultations clarified how SPICES can support preparation of SAC. Consultation participants welcomed and endorsed opportunity of SPICES’ financial and technical support to ensure that stakeholders are knowledgeable of strategies which can be integrated in SAC for sustainable land management and recovery and use of water, forests and agricultural lands.
Key learning is that there is need for granular assessment to understand land use and practice changes to prioritize in SAC. To this end the mission began mapping small unit (mosaic) and wide-scale restoration opportunities.
The value chain mission introduced the agriculture profitability tool, a CRS ICT4D programme for analysis of farm production costs and profits used on hand-held devices. SPICES is now rolling it out with farmers and project staff so that project costs and benefits to participants are measurable in real-time henceforth.
Also tested during the value chain mission was the feasibility of using Farm Tracer; a block chain software package enabling tracing of produce from tree to consumer (and back again). The test confirmed that Farm-Trace has high applicability. It would allow real-time and long-term tracking of farm conditions, tree and plant growth and carbon sequestration as well as reliable estimation of yields. This would be an efficiency gain and a marketing advantage. We will set this up over May 2020. Farm Tracer will help SPICES managers monitor field activities and results.
Trends giving impetus to SPICES are:
The global food traceability market.[1] Consumers want to make ethical and organic purchases and are interested in supporting regenerative agriculture; requiring systems allowing them to look up product origins.
Organic spice demand
The organic SPICES market is expected to increase with demand across Europe, North America and Asia, and between 5 and 7% compound annual growth rate through 2026.[2]
Reforestation: nationally and globally there is a push to plant more trees to mitigate climate change impacts; Madagascar signed on to the AFR 100 initiative with a commitment to plant 4 million hectares in 2015 and has since reconfirmed and driven planning to meet national reforestation ambitions.



Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

 “Day in the Life”
Nirina Emma is a 30-year-old farmer. She is divorced and has three young children. Her husband left the family years ago, provides no support and does not see the children. She has a small wooden house with a thatched roof.
Nirina Emma has 2hectares of land and grows rice and vegetables to sell and for family food. She became aware of SPICES when project staff held an information meeting in her village in February 2019 about spice production and nearby project-supported spice plant nurseries. She then joined the local cooperative because she wanted to grow spices to improve her income. She is convinced that cash crops are a good investment for her children. She started with coffee and cinnamon.
Nirina’s daily life:
5am : Wakes and does HH chores.
6am : Tends to her spice crops and sells produce to “gross traders” who collect from farmers to sell in the village market.
10am : Does work as a co-op member in the co-op nursery and works in her rice, peanut, coffee and cinnamon fields.
3pm : Tends to her vegetable garden.
4 - 6pm : Goes home, rests, does HH chores.
6.30pm : Helps children with school work – from 6am to 6pm the three children manage by themselves.
8pm : Goes to bed
2050 Vision
I hope in 2050 to have a better life and that my children have been able to pursue and complete their education and obtain their “baccaluareat” at least. I hope they will complete University studies. I really hope they will have a better life than mine. Field work is hard and to have daily income is challenging.
I will not have daily worries about food and being able to work. For this, I am happy to have training with SPICES. I can improve my fields now.
In 2050, my investments in cash crops will be profitable. I really wish that by 2050 that I will have been able to buy land to extend my fields and build a brick house with a tin roof.
I want to be recognized as an independent woman and as a woman capable of negotiating the real price and value of her production.

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

SPICES focusses on strengthening livelihoods in value chains which directly contribute to conservation and restoration and which are also most likely to increase revenues, inclusive decent work, food security and nutrition.
The trees and spices of the agroforestry systems we promote have been chosen for their hardiness and resilience to climate change.
SPICES will contribute to mitigating effects of climate change.
Reforestation will help attenuate flooding which amplifies erosion and wears down collective infrastructure including roads and school buildings year on year.
We expect this strategy to have knock on effects on improving/protecting household and community assets and preserving the viability of agricultural on and off farm livelihoods over the coming decades.
Madagascar is vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, flooding and droughts, with one quarter of the population living in high risk zones.6 Agricultural performance in Madagascar is extremely vulnerable to climatic conditions; but these tend to affect water-dependant staple production more than spice crops: for example; rice production decreased by 20%  in 2017 from the previous year because of drought, while vanilla production grew. The agroforestry systems SPICES promotes will buffer and allow some control over climate conditions, with trees and plant growth retaining moisture, offering wind breaks and providing the shade needed to nurture spice plants, vegetables and fruit trees.
Furthermore, we will use Farm Trace to track carbon sequestration afforded by tree and plant cultivation.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?


The region has higher than national averages for stunting (44%, low birth weight (35%) and wasting (13%). CRS has contracted the Harvard School of Public Health since 2015 to analyze interactions between ecology, climate, seasonality, migration, socio-economic factors, nutrition and infectious and non-communicable diseases.  Results point to nutritional deficiencies and seasonal fluctuations which are specific to certain localities.  In the SPICES area, there are unusually high rates of anemia (over 36% of women and well over 50% of children aged 1-11) and  generalized vitamin A, iron, and zinc deficiencies.

CRS modelled the agroforestry systems promoted by SPICES expressly to improve nutrition[i], with short-term crops for own consumption and local markets and income-generating spice crops for national and international markets; noting that dietary diversity is a strong predictor of stunting and thus is critical to address[ii]. Fruit (banana, pineapple and other citrus) and vegetables can be harvested within the year of planting.

Our food system will also aim to provide increase supply of iron and zinc rich animal source foods (ASF) and micronutrient dense vegetables and fruits. 

Community nutrition engagement and Social and behavior change interventions will promote consumption of ASF, varied fruits and vegetables and healthy/adequate diets for children, adolescents and Pregnant and lactating women (PLW).  SPICES community health and nutrition interventions will build from already established care-groups by which lead women health agents target households with vulnerable persons (children, adolescents and women of child bearing age) with tailored nutrition counselling and information.  We will also pursue innovative mobilization methods which engage whole communities in measuring health indicators and in setting objectives and devising strategies and monitoring their implementation to improve nutrition indicators (e.g. increasing number of households with home gardens or access to collective gardens to augment dietary diversity).

[i] Bhutta, Z.A., et al. (2013) Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Evidence-based interventions for improvement of maternal and child nutrition: What can be done and at what cost? The Lancet. 382(9890), 452–477.

[ii] Dietary Diversity and Stunting among Infants and Young Children: A Cross-sectional Study in Aligarh

Istiyaq Ahmad, Najam Khalique, Salman Khalil, Urfi, Mohd Maroof

Indian J Community Med. 2018 Jan-Mar; 43(1): 34–36. doi: 10.4103/ijcm.IJCM_382_16

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

Agriculture is the main activity of at least 80% of the population in the SPICES area, with the exception of the district of Ranomafana, in which tourism related to the famous national park has created a large number of non-farm jobs: only 60% of households in this district derive main income from agriculture.
While we expect that the majority of employment will continue to be in the agricultural sector and mostly in farming and in project localities in the south east of Madagascar; the growth and uptake of tourism related employment points to future opportunities for employment generation– which depend on environmental and biodiversity protection.   Tourism is a main governmental priority, given its potential for growth and hard revenue: Madagascar draws only about 20% of Ile Maurice’s (a much small island) annual number of tourists.
Between 2014 and 2017, the agricultural sector contracted by an average of 0.8%, indicating that recent economic growth is not having positive benefits  felt by the rural population which is not experiencing significant improvement in  living conditions. Since 2015, the most important driver of growth has been the services sector, with a small but dynamic private sector. Growth of the services sector was estimated at 5.2% in 2017 and 5.4% in 2018. [1] Trade is driving the services sector.
SPICES aims to take into account these trends by helping producers capture more of the benefits of their primary production and of trade. We build this expectation on recognition and experience of Madagascar's high levels of entrepreneurship and innovation. An estimated 22 percent of the working population is engaged in entrepreneurial activity [2], we are sure this trend will help drive local employment creation in farm, non-farm and off farm sectors.
 Additionally, SPICES private sector spice retail partners have all committed to providing technical training and local employment related to processing, packaging and transporting spice crops. Producer cooperatives with SPICES' support are increasingly gearing to and making progress on setting up job-generating collective services for members, like processing facilities, brokerage of input services, sales and transport.  We expect high quality jobs along all points of the value chain will grow substantially in coming years. Support for education quality will drive increased demand for services like education, IT, medical care, etc.
 SPICE’s recognises that new employment opportunities will not automatically be inclusive of women and young people. To ensure women and youth benefit equitably from new and promising job creation, we will continue to analyse the gender and age dimensions of SPICE value chains and identify actions to ‘level the field’ and concretely help women and young people to gain the experience, skills and resources they would need to take on preferred and profitable employment in which they can secure living wages and defend their interests. In parallel, we will be working to promote women’s participation in land management structures and producers’ groups, with a view to breaking down gender stereotypes.

[1 and 2] World Bank Group: Economic Outlook for Madagascar: Sustained Growth Needs to be More Inclusive to Benefit the Poorest. 2018

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

We have learned that attachment to land – and especially ancestral land - is the foundation of cultural values and practices in the SPICES region; this is despite the fact that most holdings in the area are too small to afford living incomes, averaging less than 1 hectare. The majority are less than 50 acres, which is considered the viability threshold in Madagascar’s rural development national policy.

Attachment to land  means that neither youth nor adults readily choose migration as an  alternative to farming.
However without the personal means and collective mechanisms needed to counter declining land productivity, small holder households have faced and impoverishment; this has propelled  land clearing as households seek desperately to augment livelihood resources.
This is why agroforestry techniques for vertical densification are so critical in south east Madagaascar.[i]
SPICES will also help smallholders and their collectivities mobilise the resources and technology needed to enhance land productivity (for example; through large scale water management and reduced  erosion).
Meeting these objectives will mean that local residents maintain the ecological systems on which they rely to pursue valued ways of living and protect the biodiversity and forests of COFAV and its surrounding areas.

[i] Ministère de l’agriculture, de l’élevage et de la pêche. Recensement de l’agriculture – Campagne 2004-2005.  2005

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

At the level of villages and collectivities, increased electrification and extension of the telecommunications network would tighten social and economic integration of the people living in SPICES’ areas.
The technological advances needed to meet goals in a way consistent with our vision are:
  • Ecofriendly (solar and wind powered) transformation and processing technologies : distilleries, stills, milling equipment and dehydrators which in no way deplete natural resources. These technologies exist but the project will allow for them to be introduced and adapted to Madagascar’s south east and appropriated by project participants.
  • SPICES also aims to foster zero waste production systems, and is carefully exploring 'green' options to replace plastic materials usually used in nurseries as well in packaging.
  • FARM Trace technology continues to evolve: its potential for mapping carbon sequestration (this will help us generate proof that climate change mitigation can successfully be incorporated in efforts to improve agricultural livelihoods and rural well-being) and producing accurate estimations of harvest yields (this will lessen uncertainty for producers as well as spice retail partners) will be developed under SPICES.

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?


The stable development of our envisaged food system depends on continued national support for 1- rural and agricultural development  and 2- reforestation and biodiversity as effective ways to reduce poverty and ill-being in Madagascar.  These policy commitments have been maintained by the last four consecutive and antagonistic governments and certainly by the international donor community. However, we note that biodiversity protection is often presented in governmental policy as a way to foster and augment tourism.  Our vision does not depend on tourism, rather, we hope that increased and more profitable production of spices and will directly boost recognition of our project participants of the value of land restoration and protection, even as  links with the global food system draw more equitable distribution of global resources allowing SPICES participants to secure greater autonomy and control of their livelihoods and family and community development.

In the international arena, we hope governments in North America, Europe and Asia (the main export destinations of Madagascar’s spices) will do more to promote food quality to uphold and incentivise consumption of high qualtity and organic foods and spices.  We do not want Madagascar’s spices to fuel production of ultra-processed food.

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

Rapid gains in reforestation along with demonstration and take-up of spice/agroforestry production are sine qua non conditions of progress towards goals and connect to each of the six themes.

Environmental restauration is necessary for spice production; and to appeal to ethical international food systems and thus increased profits for farming households allowing for investment in health, nutrition and education and pursuit of culturally valued lives, livelihoods and social relations. 

 Based the enthousiastic interest and engagement of private sector and governmental partners and farmers in the project we anticipate SPICES results will provide an evidence basis for advocacy tools to sustain policy commitments and investment in agricultural economic development based on environmental protection and land restauration..

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

The full implementation of SPICES’s and attainment of its objectives requires funding to improve education quality and access at primary and secondary levels and well as education and training for young people and adults.  Given the imperatives indicated in our response to question 12 above, we need now to focus on restauration and launching agroforestry plots, but if we continue to do so we risk trade-offs in education gains which are also prioritized by participants; this is especially a risk as most participants most readily refer to financial gain as the main motivation of their participation in SPICES, however education is consistently declared the second priority and most affirm they will use revenue to fund education.

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

Our three key milestones are related to effective practice of agroforestry and spice gorwing and resulting improvements in livelihoods; as these milestones will best impel tangible improvements in land protection and livelihoods and thus massive adoption and progress towards goals.

  • 02/2021
  • 150 x 1 ha Demonstration plots;
  • 02/2022
  • 1500 ha under protection/reforestation land planning schemas and activities
  • 03/2023
  • 3000  HH with demonstrably improved incomes and farming practices

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

We aim for progress results that signify tangible gains in farmers’ livelihoods and well-being. These are inspired by CRS's signature, tested and proven Pathway to Prosperity approach, helping smallholder farming households to access the tools and resources that enable them to earn living  incomes, cultivate flourishing landscapes and build resilient communities. 
100% of farmers of women and mem farmers are organized in farmer groups or producer organizations.
100% of producer organizations provide at least 2 services to members and adhere to participatory and transparent management practices.
At least 80% of farmers have planted at least 10 hardwood indigenous trees on their land and apply agroforestry techniques to produce spice crops.
A community based NRM plan (SAC) is designed and being
Implemented in all of SPICE’s areas.
Good quality seed and seedlings for performing and climate adapted varieties are accessible to all farmers.
70% of farmers have savings equivalent to 50% of their average annual revenue, protecting families from shocks and stresses
Spice/agroforestry farmers are generating revenues covering production costs plus a margin of at least 20%.
Private sector partners have contracted buying agreements and are providing predictable and secure market linkages for selling 30% or more of farmers’ annual production.
No participating household withdraws children from primary school for financial reasons.
Over next 10  years, the  combination of diversified production, increased revenue as well as health services and mobilization for nutrition reduces acute child malnutrition to under 6% and low birth weight rates to 26%[i] as well as stunting (chronic undernutrition) by 10%.    

[i] Institut National de la Statistique, UNICEF. Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys: Madagascar 2018: Etat nutritionnel des enfants. 2018

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

If awarded the prize, we would use it to fund the following activities.

Establish demonstration plots in all SPICES communes on land provided by commune authorities and schools, the plots will be managed by the producer groups which are currently managing seed and seedling nurseries.

Provide inputs for 400 most vulnerable households (households with single heads/ high dependancy ratios, and destitute) to allow them to engage in agroforestry which a lack of means would otherwise prevent.

Enable the preparation of 8 communal land management and preparation plans (SAC) with support for training workshops and fully participatory processes for design and validation. 

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

We hope that in 2050 and all along its implementation, SPICES stands as proof that it is possible to reconcile environmental protection, climate change mitigation and economic development, and that the project demonstrates that a constellation of private sector, governmental and communities are able to work together to create and sustain the enabling conditions for this.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

The video show how the people (lead farmers, women and youth leaders, biodiversity specialists, spice companies and NGO staff) and principles (appreciation of forests and thriving landscapes, health, education, farmer and community agency and autonomy) of SPICES intersect and mutually support each other.

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Attachments (2)

Madagascar SPICES_ToC_Dec11th_2019_with eng ew.xlsx

theory of change developped with communities november 2019


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Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Elizabeth Wardle congratulations on putting together a unique Vision that is well rooted in food systems while working on commercial cash crops. For refinement, how might you modify your Vision to address the 6 Vision themes in more depth?

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