The comic book "One million questions" immerses us in the world of rural development in Madagascar.
How to interest the general public in the climate issues of the agricultural sector? Using the comic! And more precisely with the help of an interactive comic, entitled A million dollar question, available in full on the website of illustrator Caroline Gaujour.
Today, the agricultural sector is particularly affected by the harmful consequences of global warming: soils are degrading, crop yields are lower and sensitive to these disturbances. A victim, agriculture is also an actor in this situation by contributing to the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
While less publicized than forest conservation policies, land use patterns do offer options for fight against these disturbances.
Investing in agricultural practices based on the carbon enrichment of the soil thus represents a solution in the face of climate change. Several international projects – from the 4 per 1 initiative to the Great Green Wall – contribute to it.
The development of sustainable agriculture, profitable for farmers without compromising the environment, is now essential. In the countries of the South, such projects, often supported by NGOs, invest in family farming. The aim is to increase the productivity and profitability of agricultural systems, while helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
As IRD researchers in this field, we wanted to popularize our work, carried out in collaboration with a team from the University of Antananarivo (Madagascar), and to arouse the public's curiosity about the various rural development professions.
In the Itasy region of Madagascar
We wanted to evoke situations and characters that allow readers to identify with them. We wanted a discussion support for future interventions and trainings.
The first step was to publish a scientific article published in an international journal with Narindra Harisoa Rakotovao, a young Malagasy scientist who became interested in agricultural development projects in the Itasy region.
So that the reader can wonder, we opted for an interactive scenario, in the style of the novels in which we are the hero. We then opted for the flexible format of comics.
Illustrator Caroline Gaujour started by adapting the interactive scenario into a storyboard with the help of field reference photos. She then created the visuals of the different characters, then developed the 35 comic strips needed to translate the story into drawings. The reader shares the experience of Thomas, a young international consultant.
After explaining the challenges of a rural development project in the small agricultural region (1800 hectares) located near Itasy and the point of view of different characters - a farmer, a volunteer in an NGO, a colleague, the Internet, a researcher – the young consultant helped by the reader has the choice between different agricultural projects for the region.
The potential benefits of each project were quantified by three indicators projected over a 20-year period – the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions balance, the economic benefits for farmers and the effectiveness of economic investments to mitigate the GES. The consequences of these different projects are explained separately.
An avalanche of questions and choices
Throughout the comic strip, the reader follows the thought process of the young consultant who works for a landlord. International policies and cooperation between States encourage donors to invest in industrial, environmental or agricultural development projects.
These projects are often large in scale and the sums involved high. The scope and the consequences on the populations can be significant: how and with whom to define such projects? What are the desirable goals? How best to use cooperation money? Who is entitled to decide? So many questions that the young consultant must ask himself.
Over the course of his meetings, the multiplicity of information and points of view further complicates his choices…
The character of the researcher wishes to bring the young consultant out of his torpor, but she knocks him out with a little more information. Research is treated here in a humorous way: it gives no solution, finds nothing or very little, but raises a lot of questions!
This multiplicity of issues illustrates the vitality of research on these themes: there are no obvious solutions, but there are no bad choices either… except to do nothing.
The "SoCa" research project in which this publication is part has benefited from the support of the BNP Paribas Foundation in the program Climate and Biodiversity Initiative. See the full comic "A million question" here.