Butterfly Farming as an Economic Incentive
Village of Tundu, Morogoro Region, Kilosa District, Tanzania.
Matt Weir March 499F12 October 2010.
Many of the rural village’s 4,000 residents pursue the same economic gains by selling cash crops such as sugar cane, rice, beans, cassava, and potatoes. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, among others, promotes nature-based sustainable businesses (i.e. beetle harvesting, organic honey, medicinal plants, and raw silk). They support the notion that a“double-pronged approach, i.e.conservation and poverty alleviation through sale of outcomes of conservation activities” can benefit local economies and conservation efforts alike (Kikula et al. 2003, 34) with the support of the village council and aid (Weir 2010) of an NGO, butterfly farming as a sustainable nature-based business and economic alternative is a realistic possibility for Tundu. Because butterfly farming necessitates natural ecosystem, this project also encompasses ecological conservation, forest regeneration, and socio-economic challenges.
Increasing growth rates, rising birth rates, and immigration increase Environmental implications are compounded environmental and development pressures on the EAM forests by a lack of economic diversification in Tundu.
Nature-based sustainable businesses provide an income opportunity which could be utilized for constructing one’s own residential structures
The Amani Butterfly Project (ABP) enables “400 rural Tanzanians from six villages in the East Usambara Mountains farm and market native butterflies.” The mission of ABP is to “reduce poverty and create incentive for forest conservation” by educating rural villagers how to farm native butterflies. (Amani Butterfly Project, n.d.).
ABP educates butterfly farmers about harvesting techniques, marketing, export, financial management, and conservation efforts. This enables villagers to harvest butterfly pupae to be sold (by ABP representatives) to butterfly exhibits in the United States and Europe.
Butterfly farming also benefits conservation efforts. Butterfly farmers only need to catch about a half dozen wild butterflies each year, but this provides enough economic incentive to protect previously-disturbed forests. Consequently, butterfly farmers are more concerned about forest conservation and more likely to participate in conservation activities, as evidenced by a 2007 study conducted by ABP of 150 butterfly farmers.
Butterfly farmers are especially concerned of environmental issues and illegal forest activities that compete with their ability to generate capital gains. The participating villages of Msasa and Kwezitu experienced an increase in forest conservation behaviours:
- membership and participation in village environmental committees and activities
- planting non-timber and timber trees on household and village lands
- discouraging/reporting illegal cutting in protected forests
- preserving natural forest on household land (Morgan-Brown 2007, 22)
Furthermore, butterfly farmers “stopped destructive firewood cutting, organized a tree planting campaign, and secured village forest reserves” (Morgan-Brown 2007, 33). Tundu may consider harvesting wood plots (for firewood and charcoal) to more easily conserve natural areas while promoting butterfly farming.
Butterfly cages + equipment + species + considerations
Male and female butterflies are placed in cages that recreate natural habitats and encourage reproduction. Eggs are laid on host plants and develop into pupae. Several netting options are available, all featuring similar materials (bamboo, netting) and sizes (2 meter height and 4 meter width (Morgan-Brown 2003, 21-22).
Low-cost equipment (such as planting bags, hanging traps, and sweep nets) is crucial for successful butterfly farming. Sales, packaging, and shipping are coordinated by an NGO. When choosing specific species to harvest, several important considerations become clear:
Altitudinal range ensures butterfly diversity, but the most ideal range is 800-1000m ASL. This approximate range can be found around Tundu.
2) Pupae period length
Not all of Udzungwa Mountain’s 250 butterflies can be farmed. If a butterfly’s pupae period is too short, they cannot be shipped (3-4 day process), as they may hatch while packaged.
3) Price + market
African butterflies are in higher demand than species in any other areas of the world (Slone 1997). However, it is not always advisable to farm species that are in high abundance, as they sell for lower prices.
4) Humid microclimate
Ideally, cages are located near streams and surrounded by natural vegetation (outside and within cage). Farming during the dry season requires watering of the host plants to maintain ideal humidity conditions.
Conceptual residential design #1 displays economic diversification via butterfly farming. This household is provided with the capital to harvest seedlings and manage a small shamba. The butterfly cage should be situated to maximize sunlight. This family can also harvest grasses (another nature-based sustainable business), which can be sold or traded with other households. This cohesive relationship benefits both households, and is a result of butterfly farming as a second income.
Conceptual residential design #2 is a family with a higher income. Butterfly farming enables this family to manage a larger shamba (for subsistence and/ or cash crops). Seedlings of butterfly-attracting plants are grown and can be used within the butterfly cage or sold. The economic gains also enable this family to manage livestock which provide energy via a biogas system. Biogas releases this family from the necessity of collecting firewood, charcoal, and other wood resources. Additionally, refined manure is an output of the biogas system, which provides an exceptional fertilizer for the shamba. Conceptual residential design #1 can trade or sell grasses (for the livestock) in exchange for manure (for the shamba).
If interested in pursuing butterfly farming, Tundu must first acknowledge and respond to several recommendations before experiencing any success similar to the six villages in the East Usambara Mountains.
1) Appoint village leadership and community representation.
2) contact government agencies and NGOs such as TFCG and ABP
3) conduct stakeholder and community workshops.
4) Establish and collect appropriate village membership fees.
5) Secure reliable infrastructure.
6) Continue education of butterfly host plants and growing techniques.
7) Continue education of forest conservation and regeneration.
Works cited + bibliography
Black, S. H., M. Shepard, and M. M. Allen. 2001. Endangered Invertebrates: The Case for Greater Attention to Invertebrate Conservation. Endangered Species Update 18:41.
Kikula, I.S., E.Z. Mnzava, and C. Mung’ong’o, 2003, Shortcomings of Linkages between Environmental Conservation Initiatives and Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania. Re- search Report no. 03.2, Research on Poverty Alleviation, Dar es Salaam.
Morgan-Brown, Theron. Results of a butterfly survey of the Udzungwa Escarpment above Chita village from June 13th – June 15th. Butterfly Survey Report provided by Baraka Degraff, 17 June 2010.
Morgan-Brown, Theron. 2003. Butterfly Farming in the East Usambara Mountains. Research report submitted to COSTECH.
Morgan-Brown, T. 2007. Butterfly Farming and Conservation Behaviour in the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. Master of Science Thesis, University of Florida. Town and Country Planning (town Planning space Standards) Regulation, 1997.
Slone, T. H., L. J. Orsak, and O. Malver. 1997. A comparison of price, rarity and cost of butterfly specimens: Implications for the insect trade and for habitat conservation. Ecological Economics 21:77-85.