Help Farmers Rear Silk Moths to Restore Forests

by Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int Vetted since 2009

Thanks to our extended CPALI/SEPALI team (that means YOU!) and a very generous donation from the Paul Charitable Trust, we have reached our funding goal of $50,000 and then some.  The "then some" is $678 from the Paul Trust that is dedicated to Stage 2 of our project.  But, before I get into that, here are only some of the things we, together, have accomplished:

12 communities, 8 farmer groups/networks, 6 women’s groups/networks
146 registered farmers, 45 trained breeders, 29 actively raising larvae
11 SEPALI recruiters
Farmers independently established chrysalis and tree sharing networks allowing non-landed famers to participate in income generation

Restoration and protection
>17,000 trees inter-cropped on family farms  by 48  SEPALI farmers living in the border forest of Makira Protected Area
48 farmers pledge to not use Makira Protected Area in exchange for a cocoon market
X kilos of added protein (pupae - X equals number of chrysallides produced minus 200 for the next season seed crop) to replace bushmeat, use for fertilizer or poultry feed)

Established cocoon bank; 28131 cocoons produced
20 m2 textile sold $80/m2; 

•Support from NGS, Rufford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, IRG, private donors
•SEPALI Madagascar receives SEED award (UNEP UNDP, IUCN)

I know that you realize that the accomplishments above are just a start to all we have really gotten done - the most important being building trust between the SEPALI Madagascar organization and farmers living around the protected area.  As a result of this trust, farmers are finally beginning to produce cocoons although the road has been long and arduous.  

We will be continuing to support the farmer production by providing a market for their cocoons.  Phase II of the project is focused on building a textile production site and stocking it with solar powered sewing machines.  The site will not only let farmers know that SEPALI family members will be able to make money from sewing the cocoons into a textile but at the same time illustrate that the farmers' market is insured.  Hence, farmers will have a reason to expand their investment in building a green zone around the Makira Protected Area (MPA), inter-crop host-trees with fruit trees, endemic trees and food crops and respect the MPA boundries. Women who have produced cocoons (either on their land or on "rented" trees) or who are immediate members of a farmer's family, will have an independent means of income, that is textile production.  

Farmer's limited access to markets goes in two directions - farmers can't buy the goods they want and they can't sell what they produce. CPALI/SEPALI Madagascar have plans to address these problems directly. As part of our future planning we are hoping to be able to extend the textile production site to include a SEPALI store where solar stoves, solar lights, solar radios, water filtration equipment and family planning services, for a start, are available. Hence, the deposits that farmers make into the cocoon bank can be used to save for valuable products that have not been previously available. Of course the vision of our training site, store, expanded farmer participation is just a twinkle in  our eyes-- - but don't forget that in just 3 years ago, enabling 50 farmers to produce cocoons and build a green zone around Makira created a similar light.  Thanks to you, we did it and are encouraged by your strong support to move to Phase II to insure sustainability.

All the best and let the adventure continue!!


Sand soils before treatment
Sand soils before treatment


We dedicate this newsletter to Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) who received a Nobel Prize for her recognition of the cooperative ability of communities to increase their financial assets through the sustainable and cooperative management of their environment.  Her work is our inspiration.

CPALI/SEPALIM has worked hard to develop cooperative approaches that are paying off.  The first years of our work in Madagascar were dedicated to building trust among community members and our team,  and building farmer networks within and across communities.  We are now working in 14 villages and have registered 140 farmers. SEPALI Madagascar's latest newsletter records some of the results of our efforts: first cocoon deposits made by 9  farmers into our cocoon bank; 11 successful breeders;  6 m of non-spun textile made in record time by the Ambinanitelo women's group. 

Farmers are taking the initiative too.  Those that have planted trees but that do not have time to rear larvae are "renting" their trees and pupae to landless farmers in need of earning opportunities.  No money is exchanged between renter and worker but farmers share the proceeds from cocoon sales.  The farmers  are enabling all community members to participate in the SEPALIM program. 

DWELL on Design ( contacted CPALI for a sample of our textile to display in their June design fair in Los Angeles. We are excited not only because DWELL is THE top contemporary home design company in the US but also because they will be introducing our textile to west coast designers.  If you live in the LA area, stop by and ask to see our textile! 


We are proud to illustrate our soil improvement program. The team has been mulching soil in the demonstration site for  5 years and the result is over a foot of rich, topsoil that replaces the original black sand at the demonstration  site where Talandoha and food crops have been planted.  Improved garden soils are increasing garden productivity.
In October, Dr. Lydiah Gatare will set up a long term soil monitoring program in selected communities (with the help of the SEPALIM team) to quantify  the effects of silk moth host plants on farms.  We are grateful to Professors Drew Harvell and Christopher Barrett from Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future for funding to support this initiative. 


Fertile soils after treatment
Fertile soils after treatment


Inter-cropped host plants on Marovovonana farm
Inter-cropped host plants on Marovovonana farm


What an exciting time for CPALI and SEPALI Madagascar!  We recieved the TOP SCORE in the GG-UK  Celebrating Innovation campaign AND a £500 bonus award!  We are honored, and would like to sincerely thank the distinguished, UK-GG panel of judges.  Here is Bob Weber's Award Winning essay:
"Breakfast comes before conservation", guides our enterprise-based approach to help farmers adversely affected by the formation of the Makira Protected Area in northeastern Madagascar. Drawing on our learnings in biology, ecology, sociology and marketing, we have introduced innovative practices for the sustainable production of wild silk: innovations that both improve the surrounding ecology and satisfy the demands of the subsistence farming that is the only reliable source of food in the remote villages that border the park. We attribute our success ( 50% compound growth in number of participants over the past 5 years) to our reliance on social capital, generated from mutual trust, local governance and from rewarding performance not just participation. Specific innovations include the use of farmer networks and the distribution of a monthly newsletter (in two languages) to disseminate best practices and triumphs, commissioning of locally produced baskets for collecting and rearing the caterpillars, implementation of farmer-suggested competitions, our “cocoon bank” that serves as a saving mechanism and, most recently, a farmer-suggested purchasing cooperative to moderate price fluctuations in school supplies. We guarantee a market for the wild silk and have devised innovative products and manufacturing techniques suited to the immediately available level of skill and infrastructure.
Other great news is that CPALI sold our next lot nonspun cloth to Habu Textiles ( in New York.  If you haven't already, please visit their store in New York and see why we are so proud to be included in their stock. In addition, innovative rubber-band artist - yes, rubber band artist - Margarita Mileva, has made a smashing necklace with CPALI silk and rubber bands - check out our home page to view it up close ( and google on Margarita Mileva to see her other creative pieces.
Finally, Mamy is finishing up his trip to the US this week.  I am sure he will be writing his own report, but in the meantime, he told me he met Hilary Clinton at the State Department and gave her a copy of the SEPALI Madagascar borchure!  He was thrilled and I am jealous - check out SEPALIM's new home page
Bring on the rains in Madagascar and summer in the north!


Dear GlobalGivers,

Things continue to progress in Madagascar.  Mamy has just returned from a trip to South Africa where he received an award from the SEED initiative, and initiative organized by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN to develop enterprise programs that support t\he environment and poverty alleviation.  It was a really valuable experience, not the least of which was that Mamy had a chance to "talk strategy" with other African project leaders whose projects were in about the same stage of development.

In addition to attending an awards ceremony in SA, Mamy's SEED adviser traveled to Maronatsetra to give two workshops.  The first workshop was for SEPALI farmers.  They discussed their needs, desires and goals for the program.  In the afternoon, the SEED adviser explained silk value chain for SEPALI giving farmers insight into the entire silk process from egg to market to profit returns.  I am sure that many of our farmers had never considered all the factors that have gone into the silk production process, into making a silk textile, and what it takes to get the products they are producing to market.  

The second day of the SEED event in Maroantsetra, a workshop was held for all of the Malagasy non-profits in the  area to discuss how they might work together. It seems to have helped the local NGO's outline plans for future collaborations and a promise to meet in 3 months.

I thought you might be interested in reading for yourselves what our farmers are thinking and attached Kerry's careful minutes of the first workshops.   Also attached is Mamy's trip report to SA and the brochure he made for that trip.

All the best,

Fenozara Justin, Ambodivoangy
Fenozara Justin, Ambodivoangy

News from The Field

After a month of rice harvesting and holiday festivities, SEPALI farmers are eager to start making silk! The SEPALI team has implemented an intensive schedule in order to provide training to the new breeders. Over the past month, SEPALI has provided extensive training workshops to 45 new breeders, 29 of which will start rearing silk worms this month. The SEPALI training workshops include a half-day overview of the silk rearing process, a demonstration in the field with hands on activities, and a personal follow-up session at each farmer’s land. In addition, each new breeder receives a detailed, 40 page training manual about the silk rearing process and all associated rearing equipment including 3 to 5 nets, 5 spinning baskets, and 2 chrysalide baskets.

The Fast Track…
Fenozara Justin, a relatively new member of the SEPALI community, has taken the fast track to success. After joining the group in October, Fenozara prepared a tree nursery and planted an additional 10 trees from trunk cuttings on his property. Even before his first formal training, Fenozara Justin jumped into larval rearing headfirst. By January, the 10 trees were already big enough to rear larvae and by the end of the month, Fenozara had collected and produced over 160 chrysalides from the forest, supplied a total of 66 chrysalides to other group members, and produced over 450 cocoons.  Fenozara recently achieved formal SEPALI membership when he finished planting his 250 seedlings, but he will not stop there. The new SEPALI star has already completed his first rearing  training, has become an expert at finding volunteer larvae, is rapidly learning the rearing process, and continues to plant trees. We are sure to continue to see great things from Fenozara Justin.

Growing by Leaps and Bounds

SEPALI would also like to welcome the 7 new members who joined our community this month. Ambinanitelo welcomed 4 new members over the past month, Marovovonana welcomed 2 new members, and a new farmer in
the forest community of Ambatofotsy entered the group as well.

Denis, SEPALI Trainer
Denis, SEPALI Trainer
Ambinanitelo Training with Lalaina
Ambinanitelo Training with Lalaina



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Organization Information

Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int

Location: Walla Walla, WA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Robert Weber
Project Leader
Lincoln, MA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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