Help Farmers Rear Silk Moths to Restore Forests

by Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int
Meeting of women
Meeting of women's and farmer group leaders

Our latest newsletter from SEPALI Madagascar reports in on its August activities.  SEPALI is scaling-up its farmers program and has recently established 4 womens' groups.  All farmers are working hard to meet a 15 October deadline and earn a new tee-shirt plus SEPALI Madagascar registration card.  The attached newsletter is dedicated to them.

Additional news:  Thanks to our generous donors, we are now able to open offices in two of the communities where  SEPALI Madagascar is working.  The offices (one-room building) serve as a meeting place when the team is present as well as a place for the team to sleep thus enabling them to spend longer in the communities on their visits. In the attached photo, you can see members of the village of Ambodivoagny lining up to read the SEPALI poster.

Best wishes and thank you for your support and interest in our project!


New SEPALI headquarters in village of Ambodivaogny
New SEPALI headquarters in village of Ambodivaogny



Dear Friends and Colleauges,

Do you remember the cut and pasted messages from the SEPALI Madagasdar team that I used to send?

Well, the team expanded this year adding two new members and as part of their duties, they are now writing a montly newsletter in Malagasy for SEPALI Madagascar farmers. The goal of the newsletter is to build an interactive community where silk farmers have a forum to "meet" fellow farmers as well as exchange new ideas and tips.  In addition, the newsletter informs farmers of fun events, competitions and up-coming deadlines.  I will be sending you these monthly updates from Madagascar - translated into English. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

All the best,


CPALI welcomes new team members Kerry and Lalaina
CPALI welcomes new team members Kerry and Lalaina

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.

Mani and Mamy in CPALI
Mani and Mamy in CPALI's new pirogue


Women's basket weaving group in Ambalamahago

Mamy, Lalaina and Cecile recently returned from Ambalamahago where they are working to organize a women's basket weaving group.  Just before larvae spin cocoons, farmers place them into "spinning baskets"  to protect them from predators.  The women of the village of Ambalamahago are known for their weaving ability and supply many of the baskets sold in the Maroantsetra market.  Lalaina and Cecile's goal was to introduce the women to the new baskets designed by Denis and Mamy especially for larvae. Their hope is that by organizing local women to make spinning baskets (and earn added income), silk worm rearing activities will be encouraged.  Groups working together to make the needed baskets may become the precursor groups to those who choose to make  textiles and paper. Finally, perhaps the most exciting aspect of  Lalaina and Cecile's project  is its focus on women.  CPALI has not yet implemented activities specifically for women despite the fact that women have a significant effect on the MPA albeit different than that of the men. As can be seen in the picture to the right, at least initially, women's activities need to be village based due to the many children that tie women to their homes.

Its not to late to order the BEST CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD for 
your spring and summer celebrations (and give a nod to CPALI!). Madécasse makes chocolate in Madagascar and was recently named One of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World by Fast Company Magazine. Organized by two former Peace Corp volunteers, Tim McCollum and Bret Beach, Madécasse invests in small scale,cocoa farmers in Northwestern Madagascar. Tim and Brett not only provide a market for cocoa, but teach the farmers how to process the cocoa and hence earn greater returns. While 70% of the world's cocoa comes from Africa, less than 1% is made there -Tim and Bret's innovations help fight poverty in this tiny corner of the world, and now they are helping CPALI.

Visit the Madécasse website ( And before you place your order, write "cpali" (no caps) in the coupon code/promotional code box. 20% of all chocolate profits will be contributed to CPALI to help us expand our work with silk farmers in Madagascar.

Oblong cacao pod reveals pulpy fruit and beans
Oblong cacao pod reveals pulpy fruit and beans


Team and Textile
Team and Textile

CPALI hits the NY fashion runway

From Maroantsetra to the Meat-packing District.  Children's stories about caterpillars turning into butterflies fabulize the potential of a plain caterpillar to become a colorful delicate creature that beautifies the world. The CPALI silk project reverses the narrative: we are striving to capitalize on the ephemeral creations of high fashion to generate the funds and attention that can preserve nature by benefiting people at the base of the pyramid. Thanks to lots of hard work by farmers and sewers in Madagascar, and help from our new friends in the fashion industry, a piece of wild silk textile made in Maroantsetra appeared in the Meat-packing district in a runway display during the New York, 2011 Fall Fashion Week 

Early in 2011, Summer Rayne Oakes, the founder of introduced Tara St. James, the founder of Study NY to CPALI. Tara used two meters of CPALI's patent-pending, nonwoven textile to make a strikingly beautiful, ethereal skirt that was modeled by Kelly in the Fall 2011 presentation by Study New York. We hope that such exposure and the attention generated by the silk's inclusion in the Source4Style and the Material Connexion libraries will connect us to customers whose purchases will encourage the farmers and the team - According to Mamy, " Everybody is looking at those pictures. Our hope is to get this project improve, and that was good news".  Thank you Tara St. James!

Wild silk in its glory
Wild silk in its glory
Wild silk in its glory
Wild silk in its glory



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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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