Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int

Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, International, a US-based 501(c)3 organization, helps subsistence farmers displaced by the formation of national parks establish new livelihoods that restore and sustain protected habitats.
Dec 3, 2014

two chickens and two eggs - the best laid plans

Lalaina covers a woven, water hyacinth mat
Lalaina covers a woven, water hyacinth mat

Just back from Madagascar visiting the team, farmers and training center. It was great to see everyone and all of the terrific work they are doing despite Madagascar’s difficult economic circumstances.

Unfortunately, we have a slight setback in our plans – our first chicken with an egg.  On the verge of surging ahead, we have discovered that we don’t have a ready source of bamboo to use for building. Unfortunately, the factory that treats the bamboo to protect it again insect damage and fungi in Tamatave was burnt down. While there is a functioning factory in Tana, the bamboo would have to be sourced from the Maroantsetra area, shipped to Tana, treated, and shipped back – a prohibitively expensive operation. We had wanted to use bamboo in hopes of mitigating the impact of harvesting wood, already extensive in the area, and encouraging farmers to begin to grow bamboo for construction and market. However, it now seems that the only other option is concrete. Will we be able to build the inspiring training center with soaring lines as we had planned? Is there anyone in our GG family who would like to invest in building a bamboo treatment in the Maroantsetra area? I can guarantee your first customer.

Our second setback - our chicken and egg conundrum - We don't have electricity. We have discovered that the closest electrical line is not close at all. We had not planned to build a training center when we first purchased the demonstration site thinking it would be used only for farming. We will now need to find a new site that is on the electric line (likely to be out of our price range), lay a new cable (definitely our of our price range) or design a combination of wind, solar and generator power. If we simply buy a generator then we will be greatly increasing our program costs over the long term and tied to purchasing diesel. The upshot is we can’t start building until we have electricity. Are there any “engineers without borders” available to help us plan an electrical system to support the center’s proposed current and future activities?

Despite those problems, Mamy sent me 200+ meters of textile back with me! Since adding a second species of silk producer (Ceranchia apollina) to the program, we are beginning to build up enough stock to supply a small designer, send samples to companies and sell the material online.  Have you visited www.wildsilkmarkets.com lately to view our textiles? In addition to textiles, they team is designing an array of small products to be made from the scraps. Mamy’s jewelry is quite beautiful as are the hats and clutches whipped up by Mario and Lalaina – the purse interior is made from woven water hyacinth leaves. The purse the exterior is wild silk and emboidery --  these items will soon be online for holiday sales – and just wait until you see what we have planned for Valentine’s day . . . .

Thank you for your continued support – as soon as we get our chickens in a row, we hope to be cracking some eggs.

All the best,

Cay

Mario
Mario's wild silk coasters
Wild silk clutch
Wild silk clutch
Mamy
Mamy's latest creations

Links:

Dec 2, 2014

two chickens and two eggs - the best laid plans

Lalaina covers a woven, water hyacinth mat
Lalaina covers a woven, water hyacinth mat

Just back from Madagascar visiting the team, farmers and training center. It was great to see everyone and all of the terrific work they are doing despite Madagascar’s difficult economic circumstances.

Unfortunately, we have a slight setback in our plans – our first chicken with an egg.  On the verge of surging ahead, we have discovered that we don’t have a ready source of bamboo to use for building. Unfortunately, the factory that treats the bamboo to protect it again insect damage and fungi in Tamatave was burnt down. While there is a functioning factory in Tana, the bamboo would have to be sourced from the Maroantsetra area, shipped to Tana, treated, and shipped back – a prohibitively expensive operation. We had wanted to use bamboo in hopes of mitigating the impact of harvesting wood, already extensive in the area, and encouraging farmers to begin to grow bamboo for construction and market. However, it now seems that the only other option is concrete. Will we be able to build the inspiring training center with soaring lines as we had planned? Is there anyone in our GG family who would like to invest in building a bamboo treatment in the Maroantsetra area? I can guarantee your first customer.

Our second setback - our chicken and egg conundrum - We don't have electricity. We have discovered that the closest electrical line is not close at all. We had not planned to build a training center when we first purchased the demonstration site thinking it would be used only for farming. We will now need to find a new site that is on the electric line (likely to be out of our price range), lay a new cable (definitely our of our price range) or design a combination of wind, solar and generator power. If we simply buy a generator then we will be greatly increasing our program costs over the long term and tied to purchasing diesel. The upshot is we can’t start building until we have electricity. Are there any “engineers without borders” available to help us plan an electrical system to support the center’s proposed current and future activities?

Despite those problems, Mamy sent me 200+ meters of textile back with me! Since adding a second species of silk producer (Ceranchia apollina) to the program, we are beginning to build up enough stock to supply a small designer, send samples to companies and sell the material online.  Have you visited www.wildsilkmarkets.com lately to view our textiles? In addition to textiles, they team is designing an array of small products to be made from the scraps. Mamy’s jewelry is quite beautiful as are the hats and clutches whipped up by Mario and Lalaina – the purse interior is made from woven water hyacinth leaves. The purse the exterior is wild silk and emboidery --  these items will soon be online for holiday sales – and just wait until you see what we have planned for Valentine’s day . . . .

Thank you for your continued support – as soon as we get our chickens in a row, we hope to be cracking some eggs.

All the best,

Cay

Mario
Mario's wild silk coasters
Wild silk clutch
Wild silk clutch
Mamy
Mamy's latest creations

Links:

Oct 7, 2014

Insect Shish Kabobs? A delicious surprise.

SEPALI Lead Farmers share beetle kabobs
SEPALI Lead Farmers share beetle kabobs

At a recent meeting with SEPALI Lead Farmers, team members prepared a delicious surprise: insect shish kabobs! After months of research, this exciting event marks the first time that the insect rearing program has been formally introduced to our farmer members. And the best part? They loved it!

SEPALI team members have been gradually paving the way for the introduction of an insect protein program. Since late 2013, the team has been hard at work evaluating different species of silkworm pupae and other insects for their rearing potential, nutritional value, and rearing techniques. 

While eating insects is old news to many of our SEPALI farmers, the idea of actively rearing them is a new concept. Traditionally considered a “poor man’s food”, insects will have prejudices to surmount in the community, but rampant protein deficiency in the region is putting pressure on families to innovate. Insect protein may offer a solution.

One species that has become particularly interesting to the SEPALI team is the Orcytes beetle. Often found colonizing the trunk of the famous “Ravinala” or “traveler’s tree” in Madagascar, this beetle is easy to rear and yields large numbers of protein-rich pupae. Over the past few months, SEPALI staff have been working to master the rearing techniques for this particular beetle. Finally, in late September, the whole production was ready for the farmers.

On September 15, 2014, SEPALI Lead Farmers gathered at the demonstration site for a tri-annual meeting and were surprised to find insects on the menu. Initially skeptical of the "poor man's food", SEPALI farmers gave the suspicious-looking kabobs a fair chance and found the recipe to be "surprisingly delicious". In fact, sharing a meal of protein-rich beetles and vegetables from the SEPALI demonstration site seemed to energize the whole group. During the session, lead farmers enthusiastically explored the insect rearing beds at the demonstration site, toured thriving vegetable gardens and witnessed active mushroom cultivation on silkworm host trees. "I understand now how much SEPALI is trying to offer", said Fenozara Justin, a leading cocoon producer with the SEPALI program. "I would like to be involved in these new programs."

The overwhelmingly positive response from farmer members is encouraging for the SEPALI team. In the coming months, the team will shift its focus to the farmers and begin insect rearing trainings in the communities. With a little luck and a lot of insects, SEPALI farmers may be able to lead the charge against protein deficiency in Maroantsetra. 

SEPALI staff demonstrates beetle rearing beds
SEPALI staff demonstrates beetle rearing beds
Beetle life cycle
Beetle life cycle
Beetle rearing training
Beetle rearing training
Mushroom production at SEPALI demonstration site
Mushroom production at SEPALI demonstration site
Vegetable garden training
Vegetable garden training

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