CPALI/SEPALIM Highlights 2011
Just in from Madagascar after a great trip to visit our farmers. SEPALIM organized its first farmer picnic and awards ceremony - it was really exciting - replete with entertainment, great food and farmer pride.
To give you an update, due to the generosity of our donors, the past year has been our most successful yet in terms of convincing farmers and rural artisans to participate in the CPALI /SEPALI Madagascar program. Your donations have allowed us to register 126 farmers (69 men and 57 women) from 6 communities. Among those registered, 43 have planted a minimum of 250 trees each either on existing farms or degraded pasture. Hence, a grand total of 15,000 silkworm host trees have been added to the border forest surrounding the Makira Protected Area.
We now have 12 farmers who are breeding A. suraka and 5 farmers who have deposited cocoons in SEPALI’s “cocoon bank.” Our innovative cocoon banking system allows farmers to build their assets while the SEPALI team transforms the cocoons into non-spun textile and silk paper. To date, we have sold approximately 10m of silk textile and silk paper (about $1,000) in Greece, the US, New Zealand, and England.
In 2011, we also introduced women’s working groups. Five women’s groups comprising 40 women total (th number continues to grow) have been organized to make the nets and baskets that farmers need to raise larvae. The money the women earn is used to purchase sugar, oil, and petrol. The earnings of the SEPALI men, however, are longer in coming because it takes 2 years for the trees to grow large enough to produce a full crop. Nevertheless, seeing the women getting paid encourages them that there is indeed a profit at the end of the silk tunnel.
Our third innovation for 2011 is the formation of both women’s and farmers’ networks managed by elected lead farmers. Leaders of 11 community groups meet at CPALI/SEPALI Madagascar’s headquarters once every 3 months to exchange experiences, receive training, and brainstorm ideas for the future. These meetings and SEPALI’s annual picnic bring farmers together to build new partnerships and relationships. In some cases, the SEPALI picnic represented the first time farmers had traveled outside their village to a neighboring village less than 5 miles away.
Finally, the most exciting result of our work in 2011 is the enthusiasm and pride of the men and women who have realized that they are the owners of the silk project.
Henri Mani, one of our more musically inclined farmers, wrote a song, Miara Miasoatra (working together) that you can see being performed in precision on youtube:
Thank you for your continued support of CPALI/SEPALI Madagascar and Happy Thanksgiving!