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Where the pepper grows

Pfefferranke am Baum, Ankify

Salt and pepper: These are probably the spices that every person worldwide knows and eats almost daily in their meals. In the well-assorted spice trade you will find different varieties: green, black, white or red pepper. But only one single plant produces this variety of real pepper: the black pepper (Piper nigrum). The name is admittedly somewhat misleading. It is …

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Toaka gasy – The rum that resurrects the dead

Toaka gasy

Madagascar is famous for its rum. Besides commercially in fabrics produced rum such as Dzama, there still is another very special kind of rum on the island: Toaka gasy. The word simply means “Malagasy rum” and points to a traditionally manufactured drink. Rumor has it that it may even resurrect the dead. Malagasy law only allows production of Toaka gasy …

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Karenjy – The first Malagasy car

Karenjy

As a traveller, you will rarely see, but surely recognize it once seen in Madagascar: The Karenyi. A bulky car, reminiscent of some kind of mixture between a kubelwagen and a colourful soapbox. It could even be part of the ideas of someone producing Lego toys normally. But behind this bizarre vehicle hides a true Malagasy story. In 1984, the …

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Madagascar’s secret emblem: The zebu

Zebumarkt

It is Madagascar’s secret emblem: The zebu (Bos taurus inidicus), in Malagasy language omby. You can see them everywhere around the country, about 19 millions live on the red soil of the island. In Madagascar, zebus symbolize power, strength and particularly prosperity. An average zebu tips the scales at 300 to 400 kg – at an shoulder height of approximately …

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The grain of life – Rice cultivation in Madagascar

Reis Ernte

Rice, in Malagasy vary, has in hardly any other country such an enormous relevance as in Madagascar. The island has one of the highest per capita consumption of rice worldwiede: On average, each Madagascan eats 120 kg rice per year. Thus Madagascar is in the lead far in front of typical rice cultivation countries like China, which has an average …

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Viticulture in Madagascar

In 19th century yet, jesuitcal missionaries and with them their knowledge about viticulture reached the island of Madagascar. In 1802, the botanist André Michaux cultivated vines of the sort “Isabelle” (Vitis labrusca) in the area around Ivondro for the first time – rather more due to curiosity than because of economical reasons. In 1845, the French man Jean Laborde produced …

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The way of chocolate: Growing cocoa

Originally, the cocoa plant (Theobroma cacao, meaning „deities‘ dish“) does not come from Madagascar, but from Southern America. Yet the eighth continent offers best preconditions to cultivate cocoa. Today, Madagascan cocoa is considered one of the best available in the world. Accordingly, the harvest is very small: with an average of 3000 tons per year, Madagascar accounts for less than …

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From bean to spice – vanilla

Vanille

The vanilla plant is actually an orchid and has been successfully cultivated in Madagascar for over a century. Although originally from Central America, Madagascar is now the world’s largest exporter of vanilla. But it will be a long way before the “queen of spices” lands in Europe. Vanilla grows particularly well wherever it is warm and very humid. Their tendrils …

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A life for bricks

Ziegelsteine vor fertigen Häusern

A two-storey red brick house with wooden doors and unglazed windows: a perfectly common sight in the central highlands of Madagascar. Almost all houses between the many yellow shining rice fields are built of red bricks and plastered with clay. With the Europeans also the knowledge about the production of bricks came to Madagascar in the 19th century. It is …

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