Cocoa from Madagascar: combating poverty, protecting biodiversity.

How did this project come about?

The MaMaBay region in the north of Madagascar is in particularly great need of protection as one of the world’s most biodiverse places. But rapid population growth and a lack of income sources have led farmers to cultivate swathes of primary forest for foodstuffs, cocoa, cloves and vanilla. This deforestation erodes the soil and reduces its fertility, which has a negative impact on the farming families’ livelihoods in turn. HALBA and its partners, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), have jointly launched a sustainability project to tackle this issue. It has been ongoing since 2020.

What does the project do?

The project promotes the sustainable cultivation of cocoa through dynamic agroforestry (DAF). Its objective is to establish a new cocoa value chain that will improve income opportunities in the region. This is intended to reduce the farmers’ dependency on vanilla, currently their only export product, and contribute to their food safety.


With DAF, farmers can grow a wide range of other food products in addition to vanilla and cocoa all year round and on smaller spaces than are currently used, which yields them a higher income and ensures that their food needs are met. At the same time, forests that are essential for biodiversity are retained and protected. Currently, 22 farmers are being trained as DAF experts. From 2022, they will be training another 200 farmers. The sustainability project also supports two cooperatives in improving their organisational structures.