Conservation through Poverty Alleviation International- a non-profit organisation- is looking for designers that may be interested in using CPALI’s sustainably produced wild silk textile in jewelry, accessories and clothing fashion lines. CPALI is a member of Fair Trade and is currently being considered for Wildlife Friendly Certification.
Five years ago, CPALI began prospecting the area around the Makira Protected Area in northeastern Madagascar for wild moths that spin new kinds of silk. CPALI researchers discovered that the silkworms living around the farmers’ fields produced silk of a quality and in a quantity that could appeal to world markets. The silk textile is unique with a metallic-like sheen and porous surface.
By planting the native trees the worms feed on, the farmers could begin to restore their environment and replant a buffer around the Makira Protected Area. And by harvesting and selling the silk, they could generate income that could help pay for market goods, health products and their children’s school fees. The farmers would have a long-term financial stake in maintaining Madagascar’s rich biological heritage. Moreover, their new income would mean they would be able to afford to respect the boundaries of protected areas.
CPALI’s first textiles are now coming to market. Workers hired in the farmers’ villages hand- and machine-sew lightly processed cocoons into porous sheets of textile that shift tone as light hits from different angles. The textile is fire resistant and naturally comes in hues ranging from light browns through bronze to deep browns. It dyes easily but does not bleach. A number of designers are currently using this unusual silk fabric to create prototype lighting fixtures, wallpaper, fashion accessories, window shades, and jewelry.
CPALI’s pioneer farmers are already reaping income and have incorporated improved planting techniques into their families’ farming practices. Having seen the benefits of CPALI’s approach, more farmers are in line to sign up for silkworms and training in how to plant the silkworms’ food plants, monitor the silkworms’ and moths’ development, and sustainably harvest their cocoons. CPALI has partnered with major conservation organizations in order to ensure that its efforts have the desired ecological effects. All profits from the textile are returned to operations so that more farmers and farmer families in Madagascar can take part in the project.
An added benefit of CPALI’s silk textile is that it may be attractive to consumers seeking wildlife-friendly or cruelty-free products. Domesticated silk production aims for a cocoon that can be unraveled as a single continuous thread. Therefore, these cocoons are boiled killing the larvae inside before they can mature and emerge as adults. In contrast, CPALI farmers allow moths to emerge and mate. The adults are returned to the field where they lay the eggs on their host plants producing the next generation of moths.
Please contact Catherine Craig for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org