“Investigating Wild Silkworm Production to Conserve Rural Communities and Forests in Madagascar”
Madagascar is one of the world’s richest sources of flora and fauna. However, for the human residents poverty is widespread and the need for economic development is urgent. Currently slash-and-burn agriculture and subsistence farming are the main sources of income for the rural people of Madagascar, with 66% of rural people earning less than $2 per day. Clearing the land for agriculture puts countless endemic species at risk, but the human need for economic independence and security often outweighs the need for conservation.
Maminirina Randrianandrasana plans to study an innovative way to join the two seemingly opposing goals of economic development and natural resource conservation by finding a way to derive economic benefits directly from the rich flora and fauna. Wild silk production provides an ecologically compatible alternative to forest destruction and invests the rural community in conserving their natural heritage. Ms. Randrianandrasana will determine which host plants will be suitable and optimal for raising the silkworms and will recommend these plants be grown as crops, which will save the farmer money and prevent the introduction of non-native plant species into the ecosystem. Biochemical analysis will be used to evaluate regional differences in silk composition and properties that may influence its suitability for use in textile manufacture.
FMI: Final Report, Poster