Help Farmers Rear Silk Moths to Restore Forests

by Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int
Tara St. James
Tara St. James' skirt from CPALI non-spun textile

Activities are hopping in Madagascar and here at home. SEPALIMAD, the local NOG through which CPALI works is making plans to increase farmer numbers. In the attached newsletter Mamy maps out where 5 lead farmers are organizing teams of 10-20 farmers.  

In addition to expanded farmer networks, we are now producing both silk paper and textile for identified buyers. The team will be shipping samples by the end of February to Greece, England and the US. We are keeping our fingers crossed the buyers will develop exciting new products from them.  The fact that we have had interest in our textile and paper from a diversity of industries (architecture, industrial design, fashion accessories) is quite exciting.

Finally, in a recent trip to New York, I presented CPALI's non-spun textile at a Source4Sustainability exhibition Much to our luck, Tara St. James, winner of the Ecco Doman Fashion Foundation Award for Sustainability,  fell in love with it and has made a long skirt that she will be featuring it in her 14 February Fashion Show.  Needless to say, we are thrilled and will be sending pictures of "CPALI on the runway" from Tara's February show.

All the best,

the CPALI Team


"Back at the ranch", so to speak, CPALI Boston is working hard on identifying new markets and buyers for the non-spun silk textile our producers are making, 


CPALI sends holiday best wishes and a thank you
CPALI sends holiday best wishes and a thank you

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your generous support in 2010!  We had a great year and I am writing to brag about our highlights:

-1. CPALI farmers have planted over 10,000 trees
-2. We have made a financial commitment to 60 farmers and have 40 more lined up to work with us. Mamy believes that with increased funding and more staff, 900 farmers will be farming wild silk host plants within a year.
-3. Our textile was juried and accepted in the the Material ConneXion libraries giving access to designers in New York, Bangkok, Cologne, Daegu and Milan. 
 -4. Patent pending for our non-textile
-5. Trained 5 women to make the textile.
-6. Initiated rearing of silkworms in the field.
-7. Established a new NGO, SEPALI Madagascar to be our local partner and eventually take over our work in country. 
-8. Set-up a new in-field farmers network where 5 lead farmers have been trained to oversee the work of 10-20 community farmers.
-9. Established new plant nurseries in 3 new communities, Ambalamahogo, Marovovonana, Ambinantelo,  and          a second farmers group in Ambodivoagany.
-10. Established a partnership with Cork University, Ireland, to support interns in international development and  supported our first intern, Tom Corcoran, who made a video of CPALI's work. 

We could not have done this without your help and we hope you will consider continuing your support in the coming year.  

In the meantime, please accept our holiday wishes!

All the best,

Catherine Craig, President and the CPALI team.


Agricultural landscape from Rafanoely
Agricultural landscape from Rafanoely's farm

Mamy has just written an update for GG and sent pictures.

If you received our recent CPALI newsletter (and if not please sign up on the CPALI webpage,, you have “met” Rafanoely, a very serious farmer.  Rafanoely is from the village of Ambinanitelo and, in secret, planted silk moth host plants on his farm. After the plants became large enough to support larvae, he contacted Mamy of help. Below  are Mamy’s photos of his visit to Rafanoley’s farm. In addition to the 60 farmers who are currently growing host plants, the "CPALI 5" are beginning to rear larave -  Mamy's tally of who is raising what in the field is included below.

"I arrived in Maroantsetra yesterday.  I brought 150 chrysalids to the field, Rafanoely took 50 and Jaonary jean took 100. 3 farmers are starting to rear larvae: Bernard, Jaonary jean and Rafanoely. Marivelo and Pierrette also are ready to start, so I will send 25 chrysalids to each of them.  Bernard have many chrysalids already, he got that from his own rearing.   Summary: the cocoons production is starting in Ambodivoangy with TMA member and in Ambinanitelo with Rafanoely".  (NB: each chrysalid produces one adult; if the adult is a female she will mate and produce about 200 eggs. The sex ration of the chrysalids is 1:1. Therefore, 25/50 females will produce about 5000 eggs. Each larvae produces one cocoon; 4000 cocoons equals 1 kilo or $33).

Below are some picture of Ambinanitelo village, Rafanoely`s land and his rearing.  Rafanoely`s land have many talandoha trees already existing, it`s 2 hours walk from the village and the same high as Bernard`s land."

Thank you very much.


and a Happy Thanksgiving from all the team - US and Madagascar!

Mamy and Rafanoely net a tree
Mamy and Rafanoely net a tree


Thank you, Tom
Thank you, Tom

Tom Corcoran has just completed his internship with CPALI. I want to tell you about all the contributions Tom has made to the project to push it ahead. Tom is a student at the University College Cork, Ireland in the International Development and Food Policy department and volunteered to work with CPALI to complete his field study for the university's field requirement. I don't know how CPALI could be so lucky but I hope that we have opportunities for future "Toms" in the future.

When Tom arrived, he had a variety of projects outlined that he had proposed to choose from: 1) Make a movie of the CPALI project; 2) assist CPALI in grant writing to expand our work more rapidly, and 3) work with Mamy to put in place and expand our new farmer training network program. Tom didn't just select a project, he completed all three.

Tom helped SEPALI Madagascar submit its first grant proposal to the Global Environmental Fund. We hope you will keep your fingers crossed that we will receive funding. The major activity, as recommended by Tom, is to establish a teaching and marketing center in a location that is central to the four communities where we are working. With this "center" we would be able to offer extended technical support to our farmers, increase their access to us, set-up new nurseries and a center for training textile producers within walking distance of all the villages in which we work.

Tom's second accomplishment was to help Mamy extend our farmer networks. Tom knew no Malagasy when he arrived but that didn't seem to bother him. After arranging for his own tutoring program in town, and then armed with a few words, he took to the villages. Tom soon made friends up and down the river. Most important, was the friendship he established with Henri Mani, a school teacher in Ambodivoaghany. Together, Henri, Mamy and Tom worked to convince farmers to join CPALI/SEPALI farmer teams. CPALI and now SEPALI Madagascar (the Malagasy NGO founded by CPALI in country directory, Mamy Ratsimbazafy) have over 100 farmers committed to our program. None of these farmers are paid salaries but know that they have a market for the future goods they will produce. Moreover, Tom loves children and you can see from his video, the special attention they receive. This work, a new focus for CPALI and SEPALI Madagascar will be critical to raising the next generation of educated farmers who really understand what conservation is and why it is important. Tom and Mamy have worked extremely diligently to make our new farmer-teams inclusive and accessible to disadvantaged villagers who have less desirable farmland and live closer to the Makira forest.

Finally, Tom is a talented photographer. During his many visits to the villages he soon established a group of followers (usually under the age of 10!). He photographed homes, families, children at work, play and in school. He gave all those he photographed copies of the picture he took making sure that the communities knew CPALI/SEPALI Madagascar would not be going away. Tom's pictures best reflect his commitment and love for the Malagasy people and his belief in the CPALI program. He has made a preview of a 1/2 film for GG donors that you can access by linking to our site on the National Geographic's Action Atlas (GG doesn't "do" videos). Razia Said and Henri Mani provide original music -

Thank you for your loyalty to CPALI and now SEPALI Madagascar. We will continue to work to make you proud and ensure that the generous funds you have donated are making a difference in Madagascar.

All the best, Cay


Mario sews textile
Mario sews textile

Update from the field 4 July 2010

Dear Friends Today is my last day in Madagascar. I have a day in the city to catch up from the "Tropic Asia".

While in Maroantsetra, Tom Corcoran, student intern, was working on a fantastic video for CPALI/MSEPALI - we think the story line is going to be perceptions of Makira people of forest conservation - when Tom interviewed the president of the TMA – the farmers association that was set up to manage the border forests edging the Makira Area -Tom asked the president what he thought conservation/biodiversity was - The President replied “it means setting up an NGO. We hope that we will be better able to educate community members through the CPALI program.

Mamy is now organizing our farmer networks - 1 lead farmer for 9 farmers - the lead farmer will take data on farmer economics as well as the sites where the trees are planted. We will have a special training session for the leaders and hopefully with the new solar powered, crank radios we can stay in better touch.

Mamy and the team are working on setting up a board for the new MSEPALI. Everyone is very excited about it. Our first new board member will be a Malagasy PhD student from UC Berkeley, Tendro Ramaharita. He is working with farmers in the area doing land mapping and assessment. He is taking baseline data that he has kindly agreed to allow us to use when we begin to compare CPALI project effects.

We had our second textile workshop - three women who had participated before and two new ones. This time with two industrial sewing machines that were "new" - at least to us and Madagascar. Each machine had a name tag of the previous owners - Mercedes and Flower. We think they probably came from a Chinese, industrial garment factory. The crew soon became pros at making the textile and we now can do it much faster. We were only slowed down by the fact that we did not have more machines. I am sure that we will be able to use solar powered machines and take this work to the village.

The biggest remaining news is that Mamy is getting married to Lalaina Raharindimby! She is planning to move to Maroantsetra - she manages a major hotel in Tana. Given her business skills, she would be a great asset to the project - keep you fingers crossed that our next proposal is funded.

Thank you again for your generous support.


Catherine L. Craig, PhD CPALI CEO and President

Fanja pieces textile together
Fanja pieces textile together
9 feet and counting!
9 feet and counting!



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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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