Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Road to Berenty

What to say about the road to Berenty? It was paved by the French after World War ll and not a blessed thing has been done to it since. It's 80 km. from Ft. Dauphin to Berenty Reserve and takes about three hours and a lot of musculoskeletal punishment. It's lined with small communities and acres of farmland, once dry native forest. It's beautiful, in its way, but the environmental degradation is far and away the saddest thing about Madagascar.

 Rice growing:

A bird enjoys the water in the rice paddies:

There's a cattle market:

There are ancestral memorials:

And there are three-cornered palms, which I've never seen anywhere else:

However, a significant amount of what you find growing around this area is agave, used for making sisal. The family that owns and runs Berenty alone has cleared almost 75,000 acres of native spiny forest to grow agave, and they are not the only growers here. The irony is that the market for sisal is the EU, which demands biodegradable packaging. Well, the bio is certainly much degraded by agave farming. Berenty alone cuts 300,000 agave leaves per day.

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