Help Farmers Rear Silk Moths to Restore Forests

by Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int

At the moment, she is traveling from Maroantsetra to Ambodivoangy to visit the first farmers who have contracted to raise silk worms. Cay will be in Madagascar till early November. Her major goals are to hold a workshop to teach the farmers how to fabricate a kind of paper from the cocoons and to introduce the idea of farmer networks--an echelon structure that will allow the more entrepreneurial farmers to enlist their peers to scale the CPALI project to the point that it advances from demonstration to true production.

Today I learned that the CPALI project has been admitted to Global Giving's "Green" list, which gives us greater access to matching funds and corporate visibility. Of course, we are striving to make the project economically self-sufficient and have this year covered about 5% of our operating expenses with silk-derived revenue--small but, hey, it's a start.

Cay is also scouting for new sites that will leverage well with plans of the large conservation organizations who are active in Madagascar. So far, the major effects she has felt from the political situation has been uncertainty about getting export permits for when we want to move production quantities of silk--the officials who would process the requests are themselves uncertain about what the future will bring.

The CPALI project is now listed on the ActionAtlas, a project being produced by the National Geographic Society. It is not yet "live" but you can still see Cay's Blog if you point a browser to and then search for CPALI. Most of the entries on the blog are directed at fifth graders who are being taught by an old friend of Cay's.

Finally, I invite you to view the great video that Sharon Pieczenik made of Erik Patel's work on the endangered silky sifakas. We hope one day to be able to contribute to preserving the habitat of the "angels of the forest".


Comet moth recently emerged from cocoon.
Comet moth recently emerged from cocoon.

Dear Colleagues and Friends The weather is getting hot again in Maroantsetra and that make emerge the chrysalid fastly, so we have many eggs now, Denis is producing a few cocoons now but for us we had trouble again because many of our larvae were dead at stage 4, but we are still continuing to rear larvae in the garden. Many eggs are hatching everyday. Only 30 cocoons have been produced in Maroantsetra during August, and twice in Denis`rearing.

It`s really important to intercrop the talandoha with a taller plants to shade the talandoha because only the larvae in the shade were survived. in opposite , in April only the larvae in an open area were survived so now we have lots of experiences about the rearing.

In Manaby, most of Denis`s trees were shaded so that allow him to produced more than iMaroantsetra. I`ll inform Jaonary Jean about all of that. When the farmers finish to farm 1000 trees, we must sensibilate them to intercrop the trees with a big plant like casava, banana...

Denis is working on the talandoha farming, so He is getting many seedlings and if it`s continuing like that we will be able to provide seedling to all interested farmers. I`ll visit Denis land on Saturday because he had a small problem in his land, An hydroelectric company has been set up in Ivoloina to provide electricity to all the Analanjirofo region, so the equipments pass over Denis land and he must move his house to another place always in his land. Fortunately our talandoha trees are still there , and no problem for the Cpali project. The advantage for that hydroelectricity is that Manambia may get an electricity and we can move the project to Manambia in the future (but right now , that seems take so long time).

The attached are photos of earrings that CPALI hopes to sell on its website - There are made from comet moth silk. We are making similar earring from suraka silk that we hope will be ready for the Christmas holiday!

Best wishes, Mamy

Beautiful silk spun by comet moth
Beautiful silk spun by comet moth
Earrings made from comet moth silk
Earrings made from comet moth silk
The team preparing the cocoons
The team preparing the cocoons

This is an exciting time for CPALI! I am in Antananrivo and on Friday will be sending our first crop to Thailand. Thank you to all who have made this a possibility! With this shipment we will have completed the "proof of concept" stage of the project. We now need to expand and continue to appreciate your help and support.

After shipping on Friday, I plan to return to Maroantsetra. The team has been gathering and drying seeds for the host plant, Talandoha and one of our farmers has even begun to gather and prepare his own seeds. The more the farmers take over while using our methods the better.

We will be spending the next month continuing seed collection, tending the trees and reviewing sites for future planting.

Finally, the CPALI annual report has just been posted on the CPALI webpage ( as well as our facebook page, CPALI Madagascar that is open to all. Please visit. Veloma!

Our first shipment
Our first shipment


Hi Tomorrow I`ll go to Ambodivoangy with Judicael by WCS boat. I would like to see the farmers activities there, and also we will meet RANOSY justin`s wife (RANOSY Justin died in April and was one of the CPALI 5). The boat will come back on Wednesday

Mario and Bertrand will take care of the house and the rearing. Every morning they collect the eggs and clean all rearing equipments. Now, the main Mario and Bertrand activities are to remove the chrysalid from cocoon and wash the cocoon one by one, dry them, seperate the cocoon according the color. Also we still have a few larvae ready to spin in the house. After my mission to Ambodivoangy, Mario and Bertrand will continue to collect the larvae in the field.

- Another news, Marie Jeanne found 5 Argema cocoons (without chrysalids) in her land. She found those cocoons on the tree. This discovering show us that Argema exist in Maroantsetra, I do not sure if the tree that she found the cocoon is the Argema`s food-plant, so I need the verify that with Denis. Setting up the Argema`s cocoon production maybe possible if we arrive to identify the food-plant and now we are working on that. (Argema mittrei feeds on a mature forest tree and produces silk that can be used for many more purposes than suraka - this is an important advance to the program!).

That`s all the news, thank you very much Veloma

CPALI garden before rearing (with Bertrand!)
CPALI garden before rearing (with Bertrand!)

By Mamy Ratsimbazafy - Local Director We are working hard and looking forward to the end of the rearing season!! Everyday Bertrand and Mario go to the field to collect larvae that we placed on trees for to feed during the last 3 stages of larval development. We collect the larvae and put them in spinning baskets at CPALI house when they are ready to spin cocoons. The fact that the larvae change color right before spinning makes it easy to know when its time to return home!

We currently have 12 farmers working with in the COBA of Ambodivoangy. Five farmers are already able to begin the transplanting talandoa (larval host plant) they have been tending. Seven more farmers are ready to set-up a new nursery!

During this year, our goals with the farmers are: - Ro help the first five to transplant 1000 trees each on family farmers and in border forest sites ( this is the minimum number of trees need/farmer) - To collect enough seeds in July, August and September for all the new farmers and train the them how to care for the talandoa. This year the farmers will germinate their own seedlings and CPALI will give them the seeds (last year the project team germinated all the seeds and gave farmers small seedlings - a big improvement for us over last year!). This year CPALI must have more than 14,000 good seeds to support the new farmers in Ambodivoangy, and 2000 seedlings to complete the missing seedling stock provided to the first five farmers.) - By the end of 2009, The ultimate goal for the COBA is to have 5000 trees growing in the farmers land and 7000 seedlings in the farmer`s nursery.

Next year, hopefully beginning March 2010, the first five farmers will be able to produce 1kg of cocoons each. It takes one year for one tree to produce enough leaves to feed 5-10 larvae ( this is a new result after our recent rearing experiments in Maroantsetra and Manamby) . The rearing period in Makira begins in March and continues until July.

In Marovovonana, (CPALI's second target COBA) I met 5 farmers also interested in the project but I`m not sure if they are really serious – we will wait and see if they form a cooperative group and contact us.

Tomorrow, I will go to Manamby to assist Denis who has established CPALI's tree nursery and second rearing site.

Thank you for your interest and support!

CPALI garden after rearing
CPALI garden after rearing
New color for suraka larvae - same species, a new adaptation?  W
New color for suraka larvae - same species, a new adaptation? W

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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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