Help Farmers Rear Silk Moths to Restore Forests

by Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int
Joanary Jean
Joanary Jean's demonstration site

I have decided to go to Ambodivoangy again with DEnis. Denis trained Jaonary jean and Bernard about how to take care of eggs and new larvae, so right now, Jaonary jean is starting to rear 500 larvae on his tree near the village.

Also Jaonary jean has decided to make his farm as a demonstration site, he will copy Manamby and Maroantsetra, and now he is working on that. He is starting to build a small house for the eggs on his land and he will set up every thing that may interest the visitors. that`s a great idea.

Also I met the mayor of Ambinanitelo in Ambodivoangy and I invited him to visit the TMA`s nursery and also Jaonary jean`s future demonstration site and all of that have been done. Even the mayor will visit Maroatsetra site on this coming week.

Also, one of the purpose of my trip in Ambodivoangy is the meeting with the new farmers, I was so sad about that because they did not work seriously. so a new list of interested farmers will be publish on next week. I tryed to meet a new farmers to replace the person who did not work seriously.

I reveived a news from marie jeanne also, and I heard that she is raising many Larvae on her land and already produced many cocoons, using DEnis`s instructions.

Sincerely, Mamy

Bertrand and Mario at CPALI House
Bertrand and Mario at CPALI House

Dear members of the Global Giving

The CPALI team in Madagascar and all the farmer`s associations ( TMA, FTA, ATF, FTM/TM) who work with CPALI want to thank The Global Giving for your funding and support to CPALI program in Maroantsetra- Madagascar.

As a CPALI field director , I want to extend my deepest appreciation for your support . The global giving`s funds allow us to improve the wildsilk production and the forest restoration in the border of Makira protected area. After 3 years work, CPALI is well known in the community, we are in the best position to persuade farmers and link them to the conservation program through the silk production. Now 50 farmers in the 4 communities of Makira protected area are ready to work with us. Each farmers will plant between 250 to 1000 food plant trees until June 2010.

CPALI malagasy team and the 50 farmers wish merry christmas to all members of the Global giving.

Thank you for your support to this program and best wishes

Mamy, CPALI field Director.

It is Sunday night and I have only 3 more days in Madagascar. I am in the capital, Antananarivo and I never enjoy the city as much as being in the field – any field. But it has been a useful week as I have had a chance to discuss the CPALI program with colleagues here. CPALI is trying to accomplish a different kind of conservation program than has been tried in the past. In the 90’s there was an effort to introduce various small-scale enterprise programs in developing countries in support of conservation. Unfortunately more than 90% of the programs failed and even among those that did not, none that I know of developed robust markets for the products that were being introduced. Unfortunately, the general public and especially the conservation groups, have not fully analyzed why these programs failed. In my opinion, the direct cause of those failures was that the individuals implementing the programs did not develop sustainable markets and an infra-structure to support them.

CPALI has been working to develop a market for wild silk since before we even began our fieldwork. Despite our efforts and an innovative marketing plan, and the fact that we have identified some buyers, we are not there yet. If we are to realize our dream of establishing a robust, Malagasy, conservation enterprise that can support Madagascar’s unique biological habitats, we will need to work closely with other conservation organizations to do so. The enterprise requires geographic and economic scale to be profitable and to be effective in saving the fragile habitats we have targeted. Achieving that scale requires a unified effort across the island. We hope that other groups will replicate our program and will work together to continue to build the markets that we have started to identify. My conversations with others during the past week have focused on updating the conservation and development community about just those issues.

When I return to the States I will continue to advocate this approach and prepare for my return to Madagascar, currently scheduled to coincide with the Spring harvest of the second crop of cocoons. Mamy Ratsimbazafy, our project manager, has participated in all of the conversations this past week and I am very glad to have his continued supervision of the project in the coming months. He believes that he can enlist 20 more farmers by the end of the year, bringing our total to about 50 (from 5 in January, 2009). It is important to note that all of the farmers have "skin in the game"--they get rewarded for results when we buy their output, not merely for participation during the training and site visits.

Our next product--a non-spun textile made from raw silk
Our next product--a non-spun textile made from raw silk

Dr. Chris Holmes, technical advisor to WCS came by to see the team and our workshop. He was pretty impressed and began snapping pictures. The team smiled obligingly. I had a long talk with Chris about where we are trying to go. We are trying to scale-up the project in support of the Makira Protected Area. However, we need funds. WCS is the recipient of funds from all major donors to support the Makira Area. Their micro-credit center is working well, which is great news for future farmers who want to borrow funds to expand their silk programs. However WCS’s own efforts to create livelihood programs still need work.

We are trying to work towards a collaboration that will combine CPALI’s approach with WCS’s access to funding.

CPALI ‘s goal is to scale up to 500 farmers by the end of 2010. Our problem is that we are small, with a very limited paid staff. Hence CPALI needs to grow to help the project scale. We were hoping to receive funds from USAID but because of the political situation, USAID is still precluded from distributing anything but humanitarian aid. A project costing $500,000 is small for a USAID grant but requires extensive logistical support to process. We are between the proverbial rock and a hard place – we need funds to grow and hire staff but we can’t get funds until we grow and have a larger staff!

We will continue to talk with WCS to find a way to better meld our respective resources and approaches.

We will also be approaching, Tany Meva, a Malagasy foundation that is the recipient of funds from the MacArthur Foundation for livelihood programs in Madagascar. Tany Meva contracts out the work to Malagasy NGO. With our recent success, Chris has kindly agreed to call a meeting in Tana of WCS, CPALI and the director of Tany Meva who has always been quite receptive to us but unable to help us directly.

As an added/alternative approach, would be working to establish a Malagasy CPALI – then we could receive funds directly from Tany Meva. Mamy has started the paperwork to make CPALI Madagascar (or some more appropriate name) a reality. We are trying to think of an appropriate and reverent name – we are thinking of Ny Sabaka (our caterpillars), paralleling the name of Ny Tanintsika, the Malagasy organization who makes the textiles sold on the suraka site. We are open to suggestions!

Closeup of the non-spun textile
Closeup of the non-spun textile
Large piece of silk "paper" made by the Maroantsetra team
Large piece of silk "paper" made by the Maroantsetra team
Odette reading the CPALI training manual that Mamy wrote
Odette reading the CPALI training manual that Mamy wrote

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I have now been here in the Maroantsetra area where CPALI has its project headquarters for over two weeks. It has been very productive and fun. The team is working well together. During the past week CPALI had its first workshop to train trainers to make textile/paper. As the week progressed, the team worked together to greatly improve on what I had done before coming here. The result is really stunning and I am excited to bring our new pieces home. We are making a silk "paper" with the cocoons that is wonderful for window shades and standing screens.

We have also had a pleasing reception from various conservation organizations in Madagascar. Because our program is working and villagers are coming to us to participate in the project, we are looking good! CPALI shares its learning broadly and is receptive to villager input and suggestions. For example, originally we wanted villagers to plant 1000 trees per farmer. However this seemed to limit the project to only the wealthiest farmers and especially not the ones we most wanted to reach. Now we are happy to have villagers plant as many trees as they would like but we recommend a 200 tree minimum to make the program financially viable for the families. That many trees will allow farmers to produce about 10000 cocoons with earnings up to $80. As a result, about 10 more farmers from Ambodivaogany immediately signed and we expect to have 50 farmers lined up to participate by the end of 2009! This is an order of magnitude increase and we are thrilled. Of course, 50 farmers names on paper saying they are committed is very different from 50 farmers who actually do something but nevertheless, we are greatly pleased.

In case you haven’t gotten the word, CPALI is now featured on the National Geographic’s Action Atlas site. I have been blogging almost daily with a special section for the Leapin’ Lemurs, Mrs. Leslie’s 5th grade class in New Mexico. We have now added a few more classes in Pennsylvania. My goal was to try to give an idea of what it is like trying to implement a conservation program in the field. So far it seems to be going well – If you know of any schools who might want to follow the 5th grade blog as well as comment on other aspects of the discussion, please let them know. The website is given below, click on it then search for "CPALI"

Best wishes,


Silk paper made by the team
Silk paper made by the team
Silk paper made by Mario.
Silk paper made by Mario.



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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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