From spectacles to tobacco and back again
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CTA. 1999. From spectacles to tobacco and back again. Spore 84. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46552
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore84.pdf
Serge Andriantsitohaina has always had a calling for the soil. He was born into a family of tobacco planters, and as a child he would dream of raising chickens and keeping a plantation of maize to feed them. He graduated as an optician in France,...
Serge Andriantsitohaina has always had a calling for the soil. He was born into a family of tobacco planters, and as a child he would dream of raising chickens and keeping a plantation of maize to feed them. He graduated as an optician in France, but back in Madagascar he saw the opportunities laid before him by an extension campaign on growing geraniums, and he grabbed them. He decided to run the family estate located an hour-and-a-half from the capital. He hired consultants, cleared the land, set up with a biochemist for distilling the flours, and engaged twenty families to look after the land, and to grow food crops (rice). At harvest he employed 80 workers. Having become well-known, he found himself elected as mayor of the commune, and started to see a path of considerable profits roll out before him. And then, suddenly, three years of investment and hard work were wiped out by a disease which killed off his geraniums. Three months ago, in mid-1999, Serge turned back to the old loves of his family, and re-invested in tobacco. Not for him any export, since he sells his produce to the state monopoly Ofmata (Malagasy Tobacco Authority), nor any technical risks: Oftmata extension agents provide seeds, fertiliser and technical training. The support provided by Oftama, Serge recounts, is more and more pathetic. But, look on the bright side, the land is being worked, the rice crop is still there, and the small farmers have keep their work. As for himself, Serge is going to take up his optician s business again. His wife will stay in the country. And he won t be standing at the next communal elections.