Team Mamboly
Eudora Miao (’19, Biology/Environmental Science)
Pauline Grieb (’19, Environmental Science/Public Policy)

The mission
Mamboly is a Social Enterprise, which addresses education, conservation, and food security issues in Madagascar. Mamboly offers secondary school students the opportunity to learn and practice sustainable agriculture techniques. Through the students, the benefits of new farming techniques spread to the larger community.
Mamboly grew out of the 2016 Duke University Winter Forum. Following the event, our team decided to pursue our project further, driven by our confidence in its ability to deliver sustained, effective change in Madagascar. Slash-and-burn (also known as “Tavi”) agriculture plagues the eastern rainforests of the island nation. Due to widespread poverty, local people are hesitant to adopt new agricultural techniques; they depend on subsistence farming and cannot risk a poor harvest. As a result, existing conservation efforts in the region have had mixed success.

The concept
Mamboly rethinks agricultural education by targeting children. Most current agricultural programs work with adult farmers who are often wary of new methods. Children, in comparison, are not. In fact, Malagasy children are eager to be educated and to help preserve their country’s natural resources. Unfortunately, many children in Madagascar cannot afford to attend secondary school. Mamboly sponsors students to attend secondary school while teaching them about sustainable farming.
The Mamboly model is simple: students receive financial aid to attend existing schools, where they will also have the opportunity to participate in a sustainable agriculture training program, developed in collaboration with other NGOs already working with Malagasy farmers. In addition to their existing coursework, this program will incorporate evidence-based sustainable farming techniques, such as permaculture. Students will implement these on a plot of land next to their school. Crops resulting from their efforts will be sold to the community and the income will sustain the program. Thus, Mamboly will introduce sustainable agriculture in a non-threatening manner. We believe that if members of the community experience and witness first hand the productivity of these alternatives, they will be encouraged to transform their own practices.

Progress and future goals
To date, we have conducted enough research to secure us the winning position at the 2016 Duke University Winter Forum. We are currently in contact with a variety of experts, such as Charlie Welch of the Duke Lemur Center, to further develop our project and are in the process of establishing collaborations with NGOs, such as Help Simus. Our short-term goals are applying to a variety of competitions, such as the Duke Start-Up Challenge and Big Ideas Berkeley. This would enable us to receive funding for more on-site surveys, fostering connections and also put Mamboly into action at a smaller scale. In the longer term, we want Mamboly to become a program that continues to spread sustainable, innovative agricultural techniques, an enthusiasm for farming, and stewardship for the environment.
Our model is practical, impactful, and necessary. Mamboly empowers Malagasy students to become a new generation of educated, sustainable agricultural and environmental leaders in their community. We look forward to working together with the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative to make our vision a reality.

(Note: our social media presence is currently in development. It will be online shortly.)