The Zanatany system in Diana’s Ambilobe District

Learn how a group of CBSGs is adopting and promoting the Zanatany System

Diana’s Ambilobe District is known for its rich biodiversity, unique ecosystems, and stunning natural landscapes. Like in many regions in Madagascar, rice is a staple food crop. Local farmers cultivate rice in both lowland and upland areas, using various techniques. With rice being a crucial part of the local diet and economy, farmers in Ambilobe work diligently to maximise yields and improve agricultural practices. As a result, a wave of agricultural transformation is taking root.

Tilma Bis of Ambakirano, a federation of Community Based Savings Groups (CBSGs), consisting of 24 CBSGs with 720 members, is at the forefront of this movement. Partnering with the Organisation pour le soutien du développement rural du Madagascar (OSDRM), the federation is sharing innovative agricultural techniques with its members. Among their initiatives is teaching the Zanatany System – an eco-friendly, faster, and sustainable approach to rice cultivation. In September 2021, the federation organised a comprehensive training programme aimed at equipping members with the knowledge and skills needed to embrace the techniques making up the Zanatany System.

The training was designed to achieve specific objectives, each crucial for the successful adoption of the Zanatany System. It provided theoretical training to the CBSG members, ensuring they understood the principles and benefits of the innovative system. It also translated theory into practice, enabling members to apply their training.

Once on board, the CBSG members adopted the techniques. The first meeting in September 2017 was a pivotal moment, where theoretical and practical training on direct rice seeding took place. By October, the community had met again to take part in the “sarclage”, or weeding, and witnessing the rapid growth of the rice crops.

The communities’ efforts paid off. Farmers quickly witnessed that rice grown using the Zanatany System gives birth to rice plants that are healthy, vibrant, and dark green – in stark contrast to neighbouring fields – and that have unprecedented yields at 5.2 tonnes per hectare. These initial results strengthened the federation’s determination to promote the Zanatany System. The impact reverberated across communities, encouraging all CBSGs within the federation to commit to cultivating their own rice using the Zanatany System by 2022.


Tilma Bis of Ambakirano is now leading the charge in transforming Diana’s Ambilobe District into a hub of sustainable and self-sufficient farming. The adoption and growth of the Zanatany System is inspiring farmers to embrace eco-friendly techniques, thus building both their climate resilience and their prosperity.

ZRPS on rainfed highland plot, hedged with Tephrosia vogelii green manure.
Use of the hand-weeder material provided.

Read other Stories

The transformative journey 
of Rabarison Alfred

Discover how Zanatany rice cultivation revolutionised a farmer’s life in Ambodirano, Madagascar.

Mrs Vololomboahangy’s story

Learn how women farmers are drawing success from the Zanatany System