Help Farmers Rear Silk Moths to Restore Forests

by Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int
A. suraka: the first silk moth in the community
A. suraka: the first silk moth in the community

SEPALI is an organization of the silk producers in the community in the edge of Makira protected area. SEPALI got a permit from the ministry to be a Malagasy NGO since March 22nd 2010. The goal of SEPALI is to work with CPALI to create a new livelihood for the poor farmers living in the edge of Makira primary rain forest through developing a wild silk business marketing and help farmers to set up their own business. After four years of research, 4 species of silkmoths have been identify in this area: Antherina suraka SATURNIDAE; Argema mitrei SATURNIDAE; Hypsoides singularis NOTODONTIDAE; Boroceras sp LASIOCAMPIDAE. Currently, the first species of silk moth (Antherina suraka) has been introduced in the communities after several experiments in the SEPALI demonstration sites.

Currently, the main SEPALI`s work is focused on sensibilisation. SEPALI sensibilate farmers in the four communities of Makira protected area. In five months, SEPALI found at least sixty interested farmers in the four communities of Makira: Ambodivoangy, Marovovonana, Ambalamahogo, and Ambinanitelo. Each farmers will farm at least 250 food plant trees, 5 serious farmers were finish to farm 1200 trees in their land. SEPALI team visits each community at least once a month and teach farmers about all methods of the silk production procedures. The farmers must set up a nursery food plant and take care of the seedlings.

The number of interested farmers increases every week. Probably SEPALI will have a hundred interested farmers by the end of 2010. Until May 2010, 5000 trees have been planted in the field by the farmers and 12000 seedling grow in the four nurseries.

The future SEPALI`s objectives:

1- The SEPALI workshop: In June 2010, SEPALI will organize a workshop in Maroantsetra demonstration site. At least 6 selected artists from each community will attend this workshop. The goal of this workshop are to train and teach the community to make a local product accepted by international market. So after producing their own silk, they will make a product and set up their own business. 2- The SEPALI research program: The future objective is to increase the number of farmers until 500 farmers by the end of 2011. Those farmers must germinate their seeds and plant their seedlings in their land and then, they will follow several trainings organized by SEPALI. Antherina suraka is our first specie of silk moth introduced in the communities. One of the main goal of SEPALI is to produce several kinds of wild silk in the communities of Makira protected area. During this year, SEPALI will strengthen the research program about the second specie of silk moth: Argema mitrei SATURNIDAE.

Currently, SEPALI is studying the Argema food plant. The result of our experiment has demonstrated that this specie exist in the edge of Makira protected area. We have scheduled to introduce the Argema rearing program into the community on 2011. By the end of this year, SEPALI must identify the Argema food plant tree .

RATSIMBAZAFY Mamy ( SEPALI founder) May 2010.

Suraka cocoons produced at SEPALI in Maroantsetra
Suraka cocoons produced at SEPALI in Maroantsetra
Ambodivoangy farmers taking care of their nursery
Ambodivoangy farmers taking care of their nursery
Ambalamahogo farmers taking care of their nursery.
Ambalamahogo farmers taking care of their nursery.
Argema mitrei: SEPALI second species
Argema mitrei: SEPALI second species
Argema cocoon to be produced by the farmers
Argema cocoon to be produced by the farmers
Daughter of Denis Ramsay, CPALI
Daughter of Denis Ramsay, CPALI's field manager


Jean Argent with adult A. suraka
Jean Argent with adult A. suraka

Dear Friends,

The news from CPALI is all good - Farmers are appearing out of everywhere it seems to participate in our program. Even farmers who "do not like conservation" are setting up their own nurseries to work with CPALI/SEPALI as well as the conservation minded farmers. This is tremendous step forward but has also resulted in a lot more work for the team which is extended to its limits. I am encouraging the team to look for local people who might help us and who we can hire. I had to "forbid" Mamy from going into the field next week - he is recovering from malaria. The team has been getting sick mainly because during the missions they have been eating what ever was available locally, rice and greens and water and they need more to be able to work (as do the farmers we are introducing to the program) . So in the future, the team is going to need to take porters, sleeping nets, more food to make their trips more effective etc. Mamy has helped organize SEPELI Farmer Associations in multiple villages who have elected a president. The president's are individuals that come to Maroantsetra frequently and can take information back to the farmers. Everyday there are many farmer visitors to our demonstration site in Maroantsetra - and it get's better!

Marie Jean, Denis and Mamy have now found an area in the south where there are many Argema mittrei - this is quite fantastic because Argema is the second species that we want farmers to rear and it produces a silk that is even nicer than suraka, according to some buyers. With all the good news, I am hoping to find philanthropic investors. The idea is that a philanthropic investor will get a return on their investment - but not a venture capital return - a return over a longer time period. The term currently in vogue is "patient capital investment" and is the approach taken by the Acumen Fund. Our goal is to set-up a lasting business for the area.

On the US front, we have just signed an engagement letter (pro bono) with an IP law firm who is helping us file a provisional patent for our non-spun textile! James Toupin, who has just joined the CPALI board on his retirement from being head council in the US patent office, helped set this up. Needless to say we are thrilled.

GlobalGiving is having a one day fund drive, 16 June, and will be matching all donations up to $1,000 per donor per project for projects on the at 50% match. Please help us raise funds by giving generously and contacting friends an family. A 50% match is as good as it gets and we REALLY need an influx of funds to meet current and increasing demand for CPALI/SEPALI assistance.

Please donate on 16 June - Mark your calendar not to mention add a beep reminder to your black berry, iphone, computer.

All the best,


Mamy meets with new farmers
Mamy meets with new farmers
On the way to the village
On the way to the village


New SEPALI entrepreneur business card
New SEPALI entrepreneur business card

Currently 46 serious farmers are starting to set up a nursery. 25 in Ambodivoangy; 12 in Marovovonana; 9 in Ambalamahogo and this number increase every week. Possibly we will have 60 farmers by the end of May. We have been trying to encourage the poorest farmers to work with us, however it has been hard to contact them because they are always in the field. Therefore, we began scheduling our first meetings from 5-8 AM before they leave. We then continue our meetings at 8 PM after they have returned home.

This week the main work of CPALI/SEPALI team is to look for seedlings. The total of the seedling that we need to give to the farmers is at least 6000 , Denis has already taught farmer about germinating seeds. The first germination will be after 2 months. Now, the chrysalid are going to emerge, everyday Mario put the females on the trees to lay eggs.

Bertrand take care of the trees and the fence. He is cleaning the house we make effort to avoid the rats to get in the house. Tomorrow, both Mario and Bertrand go to the field to look for seedlings. Denis got a new phone orange.I spend a lot of my time to work on the computer and to receive many farmers who want to talk with me. I update WCS about cpali activities. I`m trying to set up a good communication between cpali and the farmers in each coba. I received many letters from different farmers to inform cpali about their improvements.

I have attached copies of our new SEPALI association cards that each farmer participating in the program receives. It seems to have become very "in" to have a SEPALI card in one's pocket.


Dear CPALI Supporters,

I would like to update you about the progress made by CPALI during the last 3 months. CPALI Madagascar has a new malagasy name " SEPALI" or Sehatry ny MPAmokatra Landy Ifotony which stands for Organisation of Silk producers in the base communities. SEPALI received a permit to operate as a Malagasy national NGO. All our participating farmers in Madagascar have become automatic members of our new local NGO . The NGO permit allows farmers to export their finish products, and set up their own business marketing. SEPALI has a permit to work nationally in Madagascar.

The constant support from Global giving has allowed SEPALI to increase our capacity by four new farmers each month. We are going to extend our activities in the four communities in the border of Makira protected area. Your helps has allowed us to organize a teaching and training program in each communities which allows farmers to produce the first grade silk and also to produce finished products that they can sell in the local market or for exportation.

Now, SEPALI really need to strengthen their activities in the communities to provide enough materials to set up one demonstration site on each community . The demonstration site in each communities allows farmers to get knowledge about the different steps of silk production.

During the 3 coming months, SEPALI team will continue to visit each community and try to visit all interested farmers land. By the end of this year, several farmers will be ready to produce their first cocoons.

SEPALI will update you about each step of our activities

Thank you very much Mamy ( Cpali project leader and SEPALI founder)


CPALI entrepreneur Marie Jean and her new nets
CPALI entrepreneur Marie Jean and her new nets

Mamy's latest news Denis (CPALI entrepreneur farmer and now team trainer) told me that he got the list of 19 new farmers interested to join the team. Those farmers are waiting for the pot plastics. We are continuing to look for serious farmers ready to work immediately and replace the unserious farmers. So now we have 26 serious farmers in Ambodivoangy; 5 in Ambalamahogo, 13 in Marovovonana, + Denis and Marie jeanne= so now we have 46 serious farmers in the coba (community managed forest). Jaonary jean (CPALI entrepreneur farmer) said that he met 6 farmers in Andaparaty very interested to join the team and they will visit Jaonary jean's site. About the rearing: both of Denis and Mario (CPALI project employees) have new larvae and also many eggs, so they are focusing there work on raisins larvae until I come back to Maroantsetra. I plan to come back to Maroantsetra on next week. Update from Cay Craig, CPALI CEO Being in the US I have been working on developing our market as well as our non-spun textile. Thanks to the skill of Sylvia Weber, we now have a beautiful, unique textile that is sewn using our suraka cocoons and the stitching is invisible. The textile, (it is the background of the CPALI webpage, is generating a lot of market interest. Next week I will be presenting it to George M. Beylerian at the Material Connexion in New York ( a center that maintains 5 libraries of unique and new materials world wide that are accessed by various industries. This is a great opportunity and I hope our textile is selected for display. As a head up, the librarian has already told us he thinks it is "cutting edge". March 16 is a fund raising day at Global Giving - the will provide a 30% match for all donations but they donation must be made on Tuesday.

Marie Jean shows off her first crop of cocoons
Marie Jean shows off her first crop of cocoons



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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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