All is well with the CPALI/SEPALI-M project in the US/Madagascar. I just returned from a month long trip and was able to visit all of the farmer groups in all but one of the communities where CPALI?\/SEPALI-M is working. Progress is steady but slow. The farmers we work with are subsistence farmers and because we are an added-income project AND because we don't pay wages, we work around the rice farming schedule. We have, however, hired our "star" farmers for 3-days a month to assist others and gather data on their progress. We are building a farmers' network based on existing social networks and family groups.
I am happy to report that have we two new team members, Peace Corp volunteer Kerry O'Neill and RAHARINDIMBY Lalaina ---and things have never been better. Lalaina will be working with our new, women's, basket weaving group (making baskets for farmers to use) in Ambalamahago and keeping track of SEPALI-M's finances. Kerry will be gathering environmental data to monitor the project and working with team members in the villages; she is just the type of person one would want representing the US in a foreign country - hard working, enthusiastic, learning the local dialect and a sense of humor and engaging. With an increase in team size we will be able to have someone in the communities every week and visit each community 1-2 times a month. We are at a critical time for the project as our farmers will decide whether the work they invest in raising silk worm larvae is worth the financial payoff. Although we have already done studies to suggest that it will be, one never knows.
Stay tuned and thank you for all you have done to assist our project.
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