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.
Feb 10, 2012

A lot of twist to shout about

Roberta spinner that can REALLY twist
Roberta spinner that can REALLY twist

I know you would rather hear from Mamy and the team than CPALI US, but until our program is sustainable, we have to continue to work hard in support of SEPALI Madagascar developing new products, new approaches and ideas.  The team has just returned from their annual holiday and are now in the  field so I thought it might be good time to update you on our silk spinning activites.

CPALI/SEPALI Madagacar has purchased a spinning wheel and we are now SPINNING wild silk fibers.  It is an electric wheel and so easy to use that even I can spin silk.  It also allows one to easily add a lot of twist to the thread which is important when fibers are relativly short.   So far I have produced beautiful yarns (well, the material is beautiful but the number slubs they contain indicate my beginner status as a spinner) from Ceranchia appolina, Argema mittrei and Antherina suraka.  But just  spinning the silk is not the starting place.  The cocoons need to be "de-gummed" meaning the sericin that coats the threads needs to be removed before the silk fibers can be wrested free. Not surprisingly, some of the cocoons have more sericin than others - a reflection on the degree of protection they must provide?   For example, to remove the sericin from A. suraka cocoons, the cocoon is "simmered" just below boiling point in a 1% solution of baking soda for an hour - minimum.  What results is a beautiful, deep brown liquor (the sericin, that in itself, might be a useful product), and a cocoon whose fibers are slightly loosened.  C. appolina, like A. suraka, produces a two layer cocoon but its components are much more differentiated than those of A. suraka cocoons.  The inner cocoon is like paper and made up of extremely fine and very soft threads that are super gluey. The outer cocoon is a reticulated, very strong "cage" around the inner cocoon and is seperated from it by about 1.5 inches.  Both inner and outer are silk and both are tough to "relax". Argema mittrei is the very easiest to work with. The fibers are very, very long, and silvery.  In fact the silk can be spun directly from the cocoon after a little boiling. My colleagues tell me that it is possible to reel the silk which would give processing  an industrial advantage but may not be as advantageous for our project.  Spinning the silks takes some practice and different species produce cocoons with different types of fibers.  Thank goodness for the Roberta spinner -- that helps a beginner achieve better results -- just like a good camera that adjusts the light to give better pictures.

Ok - enough about spinning and threads - check out the pictures and stay tuned for the next team update from the field in about two weeks. 

All the best,

Cay

A. suraka, C. appolina, A. mitrei and silk
A. suraka, C. appolina, A. mitrei and silk

Links:

Dec 20, 2011

Best wishes for 2012

Best wishes from the Team
Best wishes from the Team

Despite the approaching holiday, we have been busy exploring new avenues for our wild silk product. Last week I met three colleagues at Cornell University - a biologist, an economist who has organized Cornell's new sustainability center.  The feedback on the project was really helpful. The Center has offered to provide funds for a graduate student to set up a water and soils monitoring program in Madagascar!  If you know of a Cornell graduate student who is up for the challenge, please have them contact me directly. 

A second colleague in materials science is taking up the challenge of characterizing the silk for  possible nano-matierals and a third, an expert in "green" composite materials, will explore the behavior of the textile when combined with other natural materials.  Natural composites is a 2 billion dollar a year market  . .  and will keep the project GG Green.  Needless to say I am thrilled.

Mamy and the team are on leave for the holidays so I expect that the next newsletter may be delayed until the end of January.  But on Thursday Mamy let me know that SEPALI-Madagascar had recieved a SEED award (www.seedinit.org)! SEED is a UN/UNDP/IUCN  program that  provides business training to entrepeneurs - being IUCN and UNDP supported it is right up our line - and this year they focussed on Africa.  Mamy will accept the award in South Africa in January and then SEED will provide in-country business training in February - business training is just what the team needs!

Its been a great - lets make the next on even better!

Thank you from the teams here in the US and Madagascar.

Links:

Nov 29, 2011

SEPALI family celebrates 2011

Farmer
Farmer's picnic

Just in the wake of my thank you to donors, SEPALI Madagascar has sent a copy of the Farmer's Newsletter for November 2011 (translated to English).  Each newsletter I receive from the team is more impressive than the previous and November 2011 is the best yet - Please join us in celebrating the CPALI_SEPALI Madagascar family and help us make next year as good as the last.

All the best,

Cay

P.S. have you considered a gift to CPALI_SEPALIM to honor your loved ones? 

Piroette receives special recognition
Piroette receives special recognition
Textile production continues
Textile production continues
Mamy
Mamy's Banquet Bamboo Server
Rearing baskets made by women
Rearing baskets made by women's groups

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