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The word tavy stands for the slash and burn agriculture practised in Madagascar. Tavy literally means "the fields so cultivated".

Tavy is a traditional Malagasy farming method to clear forest for farming land. Unfortunately, the additionally gained land can be cultivated only for a limited time and the farmers are forced to clear more land. However, where no trees are left, rain cannot sink into the earth. The consequence is erosion, washing the red earth into the rivers and making them "bleed". Although it is raining, the land will slowly dry out.

Madagascar has a very rich fauna and flora and many species are endemic, meaning they live and grow only on this island. Due to slash and burn, more and more forests disappear and therefore many species face extinction.

A Malagasy proverb says Tsy misy ala, tsy misy rano, tsy misy vary. - without the foresr, there will be no more water, without water, there will be no more rice.

Burned fields en-route Mahajanga

Razia Said, a Malagasy singer and songwriter, brings the subject of "tavy" and its consequences into her music and to the ears of the world. Income from the selling of her album Zebu Nation is partly used for reforesting programs in Madagascar, especially in the Masoala region.

Slash and Burn, by Razia Said

One day in May
it was a beautiful day
I felt so alone
when the sky opened up
and changed to charcoal grey

One day in May
just like any day
it chilled in my bones
when I heard you say
that the hills have burned away

Slash and burn
slash and burn
nowhere left to hide

On the mountain side
still the children play
things feel the same way
but something is gone
it's all gone up in smoke

This is our day
and this is our land
not just to abuse
let's not give up and say

Slash and burn
slash and burn
a slow death in disguise

Down on my knees
tears in my voice
where are the trees
watch the rivers bleed
listen to them cry

Don't we have a choice

Slash and burn
it wasn't meant to be

Who could have said
what have we done
this is our day
and this is our land
what will tomorrow say
this is our place
and this our time
this our land
and this is our home
this is our day
what will tomorrow say
slash and burn
slash and burn
this is our way

Don't we have a choice
slash and burn

Think of the universe
think of the world
think of your people
think of ourselves
think of our children
think of the generations to come

Don't we have a choice