It has been a great year for the CPALI/SEPALIM project despite the continuing turbulent political situation in Madagascar. Our program has grown from 125 farmers in 2011 to 286 in 2012. Thanks to you, we were able to purchase a small piece of land bordering Maroantsetra that will be a permanent demonstration and training site. The team has moved all of the trees from our in-town garden to the new site. Mamy found a great location – it is between the airport and Maroantsetra’s nicest tourist hotel – we hope that you will visit.
Gathering quantitative data on our farmers remains a slow process but we are making progress. We have started our soil analysis program – one approach to monitor the effect of our program on the environment. Dr. Lydiah Gatare has sampled soils from farms in four different communities. We will be sending them to Cornell for analysis. We are lucky that some farmers have trees that are more than 15 years old; hence we will have some nice control data.
While cocoon production is still slow, the numbers are growing. So far 14 farmers have “deposited cocoons" in the SEPALIM cocoon bank. Farmers can receive immediate payment or build up an account allowing them to withdraw money any time of the year. Since the accounts are free, all farmers can afford them, and for many the SEPALI bank is their first savings opportunity to build financial assets. Furthermore, farmers can make use of a second stimulus program, the school supplies program. Merchants in Maroantsetra increase the cost of supplies when school starts and when farmers have just been paid for their clove crops. SEPALIM buys school supplies in the “off” season and stockpiles them until school starts. Any farmer who is a SEPALIM member (meaning they have planted a minimum of 250 surviving trees) can buy school supplies from SEPALIM at low-season prices at the beginning of the school year.
A third stimulus program we hope to develop in 2013 is Pupae for Protein (P4P). In many parts of the world, insects are an important dietary source of protein. People in the Makira area eat some of the types of silkworms and pupae we are raising. We hope to capitalize on the fact that once farmers produce 4,000 pupae and select 200 to seed the next crop, there are 3,800 in excess that can be boiled, sautéed, dried, or ground into a calcium-rich protein powder. In fact, 3,800 pupae are approximately equal in weight to one red-ruffed lemur, one of the endangered species that we are trying to protect. We hope to battle the increase in childhood anemia among families that previously depended on wildlife harvests from the Makira Protected Area.
Finally, I am excited to let you know about CPALI’s new collaboration with the Stanford course “Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability.” Two graduate design students from two different teams will visit the SEPALIM program during spring break. We submitted a “wish” list of possible projects and the students will survey the site and decide what they would like to do.
CPALI and SEPALIM are extremely grateful to you for helping us to persist - I hope that our accomplishments will lead you to consider making a donation for the coming year.
All the best,
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