Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 289–310 | Cite as

Indigenous fruit trees of Madagascar: potential components of agroforestry systems to improve human nutrition and restore biological diversity

  • E. StygerEmail author
  • J. E. M. Rakotoarimanana
  • R. Rabevohitra
  • E. C. M. Fernandes


Biodiversity in Eastern Madagascar is threatened by slash and burn agriculture, which is resulting in species extinction, land and soil degradation and rural impoverishment. An ethnobotanical study was undertaken to determine the domestication potential of indigenous fruit tree species as components of agroforestry systems. Four major selection criteria were used: nutritional and income needs of the population, diversification of the agroecosystem, and protection of plant and animal diversity. At three sites, Andasibe, Masoala and Ranomafana, in the humid primary forest region of Eastern Madagascar, a total of 150 wild fruit species from 82 genera and 42 families, of which 85% were indigenous and 92% of woody habit, were identified. In contrast to most of the deforested areas in Madagascar, the rural population in these areas possess an intimate knowledge of indigenous plant resources. Most of the indigenous fruits are collected from the forest but for a few species, domestication is initiated by managing naturally established species or by planting individual trees in agricultural fields. Wild fruits supplement the daily diet, substitute for exotic fruits, gain importance during periods of food shortage and are most appreciated by children. Commercialization of wild fruits is mainly undertaken by the poorer section of the population. Gender related differences in knowledge and preferences on species were identified and related to the respective household responsibilities. A list of the 26 priority species was established based on the preferences of children, women and men at the three sites. Local, fruit-eating lemur species are also highly dependent on indigenous fruit trees and are crucial for successful regeneration of forest vegetation.

biodiversity domestication ethnobotany gender indigenous knowledge non-timber forest product 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Styger
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. E. M. Rakotoarimanana
    • 2
  • R. Rabevohitra
    • 3
  • E. C. M. Fernandes
    • 4
  1. 1.PASN/SNGF (Projet d'Appui au SNGF/Silo National des Graines Forestières)AntananarivoMadagascar
  2. 2.SNGF (Silo National des Graines Forestières)AntananarivoMadagascar
  3. 3.DRFP (Département des Recherches Forestières et Piscicoles), FOFIFAAntananarivoMadagascar
  4. 4.Department of Soil, Crop and Atmospheric SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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