The ones we don’t listen to, “The Land”, Manompana, Madagascar (07)

October 14th, 2013

In Manompana, there is no life without rice.  Literally. This nutritious grain is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A meal without any rice is not a meal. Men would be left dissatisfied. So fishermen farm as well. When they are not wearing out themselves on family land, they rent a patch of fertile land on a hill or in a field or they take up farming as tenant. The harvest occurs once a year, usually in May, and the months before this event is no easy struggle. From March, rain and a rising sea stop men to go and dive. There is no fish to sell which means no money to buy the staple meal: rice. Vegetables are scarce in the village, few tomatoes, few leaves. Bananas sometimes and that’s it. Inhabitants look forward to the harvest. Rice is brought into all conversations. Families walk hours to their ricefield to keep an eye on it; women braid bags with Penja (reed), functioned to carry this red rice to the house where it will be stored; men plan their activities according to this event and their kids will stop school (for the ones who go) if their fragile hands are needed for this hardship. Then, village life is not turned towards the sea but inwards to the land. Fishermen become farmers.

(An introduction to the serie “The ones we don’t listen to” is to be read HERE)

DIESS photo :


Diess took a picture of the path he walks to get to his ricefield – Manompana, Madagascar, 2013.

DIESS comment : “All this has been created by Zahanary (God). Everything depends on him. If you don’t fish and work only on your land but it doesn’t give back, what are you going to do? And if you work only in the sea but the sea doesn’t give back, what are you going to do? This is why I give the same value to the sea and the land.”

“Here is Tohanjaly, the cure for a difficult life. During summer time, we earn money with the fish we catch and sell. All the products from the sea get out. But during winter, nothing happens. So us, we have to plant rice in order to harvest during winter and be able to hold on until the next summer.”

“The land has started to loose her vital resin because of the population growth. Before, the plot we have was half farmed and left lie fallow the year after while we were farming the other part of the plot. Now, we are so many that we farm the whole plot and start again one year later. We are working on the land, again and again, and she looses her vital resin.”


NARASSON ‘s photo :


Narasson took a picture of his friend Diess while he is cleaning the rice field on a hill – Manompana, Madagascar, 2013.


NARASSON’s comment : “Here is the life of a Malagasy farmer, here is the plantation.  Thankfully we have this because it saves our life during winter. If there is no rice, we die. During summer, we work the rice and then, the manioc. During this time, as we dive by night and by day we can pay people to help us working in the field (1). We can say it is a reward from the sea : we don’t have to use all our strength working the land. And during winter time, we harvest, we take out what we have planted. The priority is first the plantation. If you don’t work on your plantation you will have nothing to eat when winter comes.”

“I have a field on the hill but this land is not mine, I rent it. This year, I planted 150 Kapoka (2) of rice and I have harvested only 20 bags. Last year, I was able to pay villagers who helped me but this year was a bad one. I had to pay people to do the Miava (slash the land before to burn it) and all the money I put aside was used for this. So I didn’t have the means to pay villagers for harvesting the land so I make an exchange with rice.”

(1) : they are able to pay helpers after selling their fish.

(2) : Kapoka is a small  tin used to mesure rice, beans, etc


SERA ‘s photo :


Sera took a picture of his wife preparing the manioc they have harvested – Manompana, Madagascar, 2013.


SERA ‘s comment : “Here is a woman from the bush working. The manioc she is preparing is part of our staple diet. But first, it’s rice. It is the picture of the women and it gives a proof of how difficult our life is.”

“In May, we harvest our rice so between May and October we can eat what our strength has produced (1). It’s from October that I have to buy rice. I can buy it with the fish I catch and sell because at this time of the year I come back to the sea. From October to May, life is beautiful, but after, it is difficult.”


IDA’s photo :

I 10

The catch of the day, photo taken by Ida after hours in the sea hunting fish with his speargun – Manompana, Madagascar, 2013.


IDA’s comment : “The first thing I think about when I go to the sea is to sell my catch because with money I can buy rice. All these fish (above) have been sold, I haven’t eaten one.”

“I don’t have any ricefield but I make rice sometimes. But the yield can only last 3 or 4 months. This year, I didn’t make rice.”


ZAFAMARO ‘s photo :


Zafamaro took a picture of his ricefield – Manompana, Madagascar, 2013.


ZAFAMARO’s comment : “This picture, it’s in the bush. It’s the rice one week before harvesting. I have harvested a little this year but it gave me back what I needed. It’s someone’s land, I do tenant farming. I have two-third and the owner one-third.”

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