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.
Sep 19, 2013

Mushrooms, yummy insects and cash!

SEPALI Madagascar
SEPALI Madagascar's women's workshop

Straight from Madagascar - Mamy Ratsimbazafy, CPALI local director and SEPALI Madagascar's founder, reports in on project success.

1-   News about the new moth species “ Ceranchia apollina”:
A lot has happened in the SEPALIM program during the latest 3 months. After the discovery of the host plant for our new target species moth “ Ceranchia apollina”, SEPALIM team has decided to start the design creation using the Ceranchia  cocoons. At the same time, the team has planted the host plant seedling at the new demonstration site with great success. At least 15 women have been invited to make textile out of Ceranchia cocoons in June – July.  Twenty two meter squares of both A. suraka and Ceranchia silk textiles have been shipped to the US in July to be sold as well as for design research purpose. Making textile remains as the favourite activities according to the women.

Intercropping the host plant tress with legumes, vegetable and Mushrooms:
Every single step of the wild silk rearing has been exploited by the Sepalim team to bring benefit to the community breeders. Silkworm pupae are rich in protein and will provide a new food resource for farmers in the future. The larvae poop, (everybody poops) which we already know as a good fertilizer for vegetable garden. In that case, Sepalim has decided to combine the wild silk rearing with legumes and vegetable farming program through intercropping the host plant trees with new kinds of legumes and vegetable that no one in the Maroantsetra area has planted before. To do so, Sepalim distributes seeds to all breeders that have larvae on their host plant trees.At this time, we are doing experiments of both legumes and vegetable farming. The goal of the experiment is to master the technical farming methods of each crop as well as to learn the best way to get profit from doing a green composting.

One of the Sepalim good news in the latest three months also is the discovery of two species of edible mushrooms ( Judas ear mushroom, Auricularia and white mushroom, lentinus) growing on the brunches of the Talandoha ( A. suraka host plant). Sepalim will improve its research on growing mushroom on the host plant dead brunches in order to combat the malnutrition threat in the community.

Pupae-for-food to combat the malnutrition:
Insect pupae are eaten worldwide and known as a delicious food. Unfortunately, insect consumption is not popular in Madagascar. The pupae is rich in protein and probably the future protein source for Malagasy. That is why we have decided to introduce the pupae-for-food program to the community. Many researches have been done locally to cook a delicious meal of pupae. 

The pupae of  the SATURNIDAE might be a good protein recourses for people in the poor country such as ours. The size of the pupae is big and only 50 pupae for every meal is enough for one adult person. After trying to eat the pupae combining with spices, we can witness that is very delicious meal to eat with our emblematic food “ Rice”.

Only, we suggested to harvest only the young pupae because the old pupae tastes bitter.

Thank you for your continued support!

Two new textiles plus our traditional
Two new textiles plus our traditional
Experimental gardens - stay tuned
Experimental gardens - stay tuned
Yummy insects for lunch!
Yummy insects for lunch!
High nutrition, high satisfaction
High nutrition, high satisfaction


Jul 29, 2013

Combating scarcity thinking

Ceranchia apollina cocoon (our new favorite)
Ceranchia apollina cocoon (our new favorite)

One of the most difficult aspects of the CPALI/SEPALI project has been to change farmer's  "scarcity thinking".  Scarcity thinking stems from a lack of hope and belief that it is better to spend today than save for tomorrow.  Scarcity thinking seems to most afflict the poorest of the poor because their lives are so tenuous.  CPALI/SEPALIM is trying to tackle this problem by establishing a "Cocoon Bank" where farmers deposit cocoons but defer returns until they build up enough cash to make a substantial purchase. So far, we have had about 15 farmers take advantage of cocoon savings but that is not enough. We need to figure out how to motivate farmer's to learn how produce more cocoons.  Most farmers do not follow the "rules", or the steps we teach to insure maximum cocoon production.  Like all of us, they take short cuts. During rearing season, many farmers fail to a visit their fields frequently enough to move larvae to fresh trees, adjust protective nets and collect larvae just prior to spinning. Even though these activities only last for about 40 days per crop, and take about 2 hours, farmers are not sufficiently motivated to return to their fields as frequently as is needed.  Some farmers need to walk 2 hours from the village to reach their fields.  

To motivate farmers we are trying a new incentive program - that is to make seeds for vegetable crops available to those who deposit cocoons. Our data show that farmers who successfully rear larvae and produce cocoons are much more likely to continue rearing larvae than those that simply go through the training.  Therefore, if a farmer that deposits 500 cocoons in the cocoon bank, he or she will have access to viable vegetable seeds. Our new Peace Corp Volunteer, Donald Quinn-Jacobs, has planted a vegetable garden on Gony Victor's land in Mahalevona, one of new communities near the Masoala National Park where we are working (see map).  Farmers will be able to choose what they want to grow and the number of seeds available will correlate with the number of cocoons deposited. The vegetable seeds can be inter-cropped with Talandoa trees on existing farms to make daily visits to tend caterpillars more productive.   We are hoping for some good eating and improved nutrition for farmer families - we will let you know if our scheme works!


 SEPALI Madagascar sent 20 meters of beautiful textile made from cocoons spun by two different species of Saturniidae moths:  Antherina suraka  (our old favorite) and our new favorite, Ceranchia apollina. Instead of mixing inner and outer cocoons, the team made 2 new textiles that have unique and stunning characteristics.  The moth loosely spins the outer cocoon  and the inner cocoon is spun tightly.  The photograph below shows the cocoon as it is found in the field to maximum effect. 

The Team decided to take advantage of these differences to make two different textiles.  The top fabric is made from cocoons spun by Antherina suraka. The center fabric is made from outer cocoons and the bottom fabric from the inner cocoons. Although it is hard so see the gorgeous translucent effect of the middle layer textile, it is fun to imagine a beautiful gown that takes advantage of the silks double layer beauty - Any designers for the next eco-Oscar sensation?

We are finally able to begin our long-term soil analyses.  One hundred and forty samples have benn analyzed from the farms marked on the included map. Thank you Cornell, REBIOMA and the SEPALI team for helping this work come to the fore!

Two new textiles, plus our old favorite (on top)
Two new textiles, plus our old favorite (on top)
SEPALI soil sample sites
SEPALI soil sample sites


May 15, 2013


Good bye and thank you to Kerry O
Good bye and thank you to Kerry O'Neill

NEWS FLASH: SEPALIM’s EXTREME team to be interviewed on CNN. Showtime is Saturday, 18 May, 2013, 11:30 AM PST and 2:30 PM EST.  Over the past 6 months CPALI/SEPALIM has been partnering with a team of Stanford students to improve our project and in particular textile production efficiency.  We don’t know for SURE, but the team was interviewed and we think that they will be featured on CNN’s “What’s Next”. The program is focused on the Stanford course, “Design for Extreme Affordability” taught by Jim Patel and that we have been privileged to participate in. We hope that you will tune in – it’s a great course and great program (for a sneak peak:

News from the field:
Mamy Ratsimbazafy continues to lead the team in building up the soils at our new training site but harvesting truckloads of the invasive plant, water hyacinth.  It is a huge effort but we are hoping other farmers in the area will follow our lead and improve their fields.  Farmers are continuing to deposit cocoons in the bank and building up “savings”.

Maminirina Randrianandrasana has just completed a survey of insects eaten in the Makira area as we get ready to introduce caterpillar pupae as an alternative source of protein.  As a first step we are comparing the nutritional value of different species as well as the effect of host plant on the nutritional value of Antherina suraka. Lalaina Raharindimby, the head of our women’s training program, has figured out how to roast the pupae so that they can be ground and their nutritional value analyzed. We hope to generate enough funds to allow these analyses while we pick the next silkworms that will be used for silk production.  Our goal is to enable our farmer to earn cash and increase their protein intake.

We are sad to say good-bye to our fabulous Peace Corp volunteer Kerry O’Neill.  Kerry has been a delight to work with and formed many fast friendships in the community and with the farmers allowing SEPALIM to continue to extend its Social Capital approaches to conservation.  She has been a critical force and developing new partnerships in Mahalevena where new farmers have already planted trees and produced silkworms. Kerry, we thank you and will miss you greatly.

Market news
We are thrilled to announce that CPALI/SEPALIM’s textiles are now advertised and available not only to designers through Source4Style’s website ( but also to retail buyers at Habu Textile in New York (and soon, Tokyo;! It is wonderful to be working with two such environmentally conscious and effective companies.

Let the adventure continue!!

SEPALIM continues to improve training site
SEPALIM continues to improve training site
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