Tango-ing with the Tangalamena In June, SEPALIM met with the traditional village leaders or “Tangalamena” at the Maroantsetra demonstration site. We consider this meeting a historic event as the willingness of the Tangalamena to come together in Maroantsetra gives new credibility to the project in the eyes of the villagers. Also, meeting at the demonstration site allowed the Tangalamena to brainstorm new strategies for increasing membership and ways to collect more reliable data from each of the lead farmers in their village sites.
Also in June, SEPALIM hired local farmer Eddy Mangamanana who will help SEPALIM both in the field and in the office. Eddie will work with SEPALIM full time to spread awareness about the program, attract new farmers and facilitate the establishment of new farmer groups. Eddie has already begun working in two new SEPALI communities (Ambatofotsy and Mahalevona, check out the attached map) under the supervision of other staff members and will soon be able to visit each community on his own.
Phase II How does Phase II differ from Phase I? We are focusing on extending our work to new areas but only with communities that approach SEPALIM for help. Hence we spend less time making "cold" calls to villages to introduce the program. Instead, village representatives arrive at the demonstration site and request a training visit. We are excited as we need to do a lot less convincing - the villagers are already convinced.
Our second initiative is to build the skills of our textile producers to meet the increased cocoon that we anticipate. We plan to find new ways to make the textile more efficiently. Currently the textile is made in Maroantsetra where we have electricity. The farmers have decided, however, that only those producing the cocoons will qualify for making textiles since the fabrication step can be lucrative. This means that the fabricators, who are mostly women, will need to travel to town and will need a place to stay. We would like to relocate our demonstration farm to a new site and build a dormitory where workers can stay for as long as a week to make the fabric. In the future of our future, we hope that the fabricators will be able to use solar-powered sewing machines and set up shop at home in their villages. We would like to provide loans (based on collateral built at the cocoon bank) to especially industrious women,to allow them to purchase a sewing machine, solar panels and hire others. These women should be able to add the cocoons they produce to cocoons that they purchase in the villages to make textile. Of course our goal is that local women will begin to establish their own enterprises independent from CPALI/SEPALIM. We will, of course, still continue to provide a market - but who knows, maybe they will come up with their own!
Planning a trip to Madagascar? We hope so! In response to popular demand, SEPALIM has been hard at work this month preparing the demonstration site and office to host tourists. The tours can be largely self-guided, which minimizes their impact on the work of the project. But be assured, there will be plenty to see. The site now includes educational signs, a butterfly garden, a tree nursery, demonstrations of rearing techniques, and a display case for our artisans. Please come visit our demonstration site in Maroantsetra and meet the team and larvae up close. The team is looking forward to meeting GGivers up close and personal!
All the best,
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