The balance between environment and economy is a delicate one, but in Madagascar, a program has been developed that hopes to respect both.
Conservation through Poverty Alleviation International has designed a unique program that supports native ecosystems and engages communities in forest protection, allowing rural farmers to earn a living that supports the ecosystem that underpins their livelihood.
CPALI provides training on how to farm or sustainably collect silk cocoons. Farmers learn how to slice open the cocoons and remove the pupae, which they protect until the pupae metamorphose into moths. Unlike the silk textiles, most of us are familiar with, CPALI’s textile is no-kill. Farmers then sell the cocoons to CPALI Madagascan artisans who wash, iron, and sew them together. Different silkworm species and different cocoon layers produce fabrics that differ in texture, thickness, colour, and lustre. CPALI currently sells five varieties of silk, sold either dyed or undyed, and it is the rich colours and patterns of Madagascar’s wildlife that inspires the artisans’ dye choices.
This stitched silk has found a following amongst artists, fashion designers, and interior decorators. Galleries in New York, Washington, and Oregon have displayed and sold CPALI silk. With revenue from sales reinvested in the Madagascar program, hopefully, this will go some way to ensure the future of both the artisans and the 200,000 plants and animals found nowhere but in this remarkable country.
Guest blog post by Catherine Craig