Milestone reached: Mahampy Weavers’ Cooperative formed!
November saw the exciting creation of the Mahampy Weavers’ Cooperative in Sainte Luce, southeast Madagascar. In Sainte Luce, women weave mahampy (a local reed) to provide a vital income their families and since April 2019, SEED has been working towards the creation of a Mahampy Weavers’ Cooperative. After much discussion, the weavers decided to form not one but five Cooperatives, organised according to location in the villages, with a combined 166 weavers.
The SEED team visited Sainte Luce in early December to discuss the type of training the Cooperatives would like, the local welfare system, potential new products and mahampy conservation. All Cooperatives want training in weaving hats and baskets and incorporating writing and pictures into their designs. Further, the Cooperatives dislike the local welfare system as it can lead to exploitation and conflict, and support removing it.
New products to access the tourist market were discussed; the local Manafiafy Eco-Lodge and nearby Anosy capital Fort Dauphin attract many tourists. Regarding mahampy conservation, all Cooperatives recognise the need to protect the mahampy reed-beds, and unanimously supported the construction of firebreaks around these vulnerable ecosystems.
Lastly, the Cooperatives decided on the location for the much-anticipated Weavers’ Studio. Come January, this dusty field will be transformed into a bustling studio where women can store products, exchange ideas and sell mahampy products. Further, it will provide a central location for SEED to deliver the requested weaving training; business, financial and marketing education; and become a platform for mahampy conservation.