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.
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

Links:

May 15, 2013

CPALI/SEPALIM's EXTREME DREAM TEAM TO BE ON CNN

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:  http://whatsnext.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/14/addressing-tough-poverty-problems-with-innovation-and-design).

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 (www.source4style.com) but also to retail buyers at Habu Textile in New York (and soon, Tokyo; www.habutextile.com)! 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
Apr 10, 2013

New larvae, new demonstration site

Beautiful Ceranchia appolina caterpillar
Beautiful Ceranchia appolina caterpillar

Manoely Denis found the host plant of Ceranchia appolina!  and guess what?  It is a mature forest vine!  So far we don't have the scientific name but we are FINALLY on the way to rearing our third species. Mamy started working on this in 2011 and it has been a long haul.  All this on top of the good news that Bunaea feed on Hintsina - a tree used for wood in the communities - AND that we have about 30 Bunaea pupae that the SEPALIM team will rear at our new demonstration site.  We hope to produce enough second generation pupae to begin analysis of their nutritional value.  We suspect that all three will become important supplements to our future program.  In the future future we will be helping farmers raise the new caterpillars and inter-crop their host trees on existing farms.

Mamirina Randrianandrasana left for the field last week.  She will be doing an entomophagy survey in Madagascar and around the Makira area as well as sampling leaves from host plants grown on different soils.  Eventually we will sample pupae that fed on those same trees as caterpillars to see if soil type affects the nutritional quality of the host plant and hence the pupae that fed on it.

The Stanford Extreme team is back at the university and as soon as they get their bearings I will update you on their findings and how that may affect our new demonstration site and training center that is being designed by the Architects for Humanity, Boston.

Finally the SEPALIM team is sending another GREAT newsletter/update form the field.  Be sure to check it out.

Manuel Denis finds C.appolina
Manuel Denis finds C.appolina's host plant
SEPALIM
SEPALIM's new insectary
Habitat improvement continues
Habitat improvement continues

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