19 July 2011

Agroforestry Conundrums: Vanilla vs. Camphor

A recent series of posts (Well, back in May, but still…) by Noah Jackson, over at Rainforest Alliance’s Frog Blog, focused on vanilla farming in Madagascar. He is an auditor for RA, travels the world meeting farmers and foresters, assessing the sustainability of their practices and compliance with certification standards. He makes the point about how important it is for vanilla farming to be sustainable. Especially in Madagascar:
Vanilla grows in the northern part of the country, where coastal and montane rainforests thrive. In a place as biodiverse as Madagascar, growing and cultivating crops like vanilla in harmony with nature is particularly important –  irresponsible farming could threaten the integrity of this incredible landscape.
But if its like most of the crops in Mada very little is certified because of how expensive it is to do the audits and stay up to date with the latest requirements. There are, however,  folks  trying still export crops the right way. People like From the Field Trading, composed primarily of 2 rpcvs and the farmers that they have lived and worked with for years. 

09 July 2011

My (not so) Nightmare Third World Dentist Experience

I got off the taxibe 165 as if I was going to The Cookie Shop, a little cafe in the capital that is the closest thing you can get to America this side of Africa. Unfortunately, as soon as I neared the shop, I had to ignore the little latte fiend in my brain and turn down a side road instead. This road heads past a strip of chop shops that leads to an informal market surrounding the “stinky lake,” the most foul, putrescent cesspool of a pond in Tana (and people fish in it). I did this because I was headed to the dentist, having ejected a filling from a lower incisor and subsequently swallowing it while therapeutically biting my nails the week before. I think I should take up smoking instead - it would be better for my teeth.