Some of the most exciting recent work of the Cameroon Inga Project has been that three new plots have reached the sowing stage, and maize has been planted in each, as well as in adjacent comparison plots. These comparison plots are right next the Inga alley plots and have been planted with the same maize, at the same time, though with more maize seed because there is more room without the Inga trees to take up space.
Mrs. Mendo’s Inga plot before the pruning, which will be the fourth one. On the left, maize seed.
The really exciting stage will come in June/July when these plots will be harvested and the harvests weighed. We found in the previous first two plots with comparison plots (see below) that the harvest was up to 10 times greater in the Inga plots than the comparison plots on poor, degraded soil. Whereas these comparisons are not done under strict laboratory conditions, maybe they have more validity as they are done by real farmers in real farm conditions.
Previous comparisons of maize production in farm plots with and without Inga
It was clear that there would be no decent harvest from the comparison plots, so both at Bizang and Allen these have now been planted over as Inga alleys. But at Allen they nonetheless started a new no Inga comparison as well.
Young Inga trees planted on what was t Mrs. Mendo’s no-Inga comparison plot at Allen, and a new comparison plot near it.
‘Why are you doing a new comparison plot at Allen when you can see these are not productive?’ I asked. The answer was, because it will help us to convince more farmers. Yes, indeed it should. We will have an Inga plot that was productive from the first harvest, and continues to be productive, a comparison plot that was unproductive but when planted with Inga will become productive, and now a new comparison plot that we expect will not be productive. Surely this extensive demonstration of all possibilities will convince the local farmers that it is the Inga that is making this infertile land fertile again. Please note that no chemicals have been used on any of these plots.
Mrs. Mendo’s child
Third planting of maize at the Bizang Inga plot, and a close up of inserting the maize seed into the top soil/mulch.
First pruning of Inga plot at Mbalmayo, one of the three plots now pruned and sown with maize for the first time. Comparison plots were also made.
Comments on previous newsletter
How can the truck be loaded up with plenty of Inga seedlings when the Cameroon government, with good reason, is clamping down on the use of black plastic bags? The seedlings are normally grown and transported in these.
Thank you very much for all suggestions. Please read the suggestions below, and add to them or comment further. Thank you.
Comment 1. Charles Barber.
Just wondered whether it might be possible
a) to use plastic pots - although more expensive than bags, they could be continually recycled. In this country people often acquire more plastic pots than they want, but suspect the situation might be completely different in Cameroon, where all such items might have a value
b) get support from local MP so that Volunteers Serving Development/ Rainforest Saver is given special dispensation to use plastic bags.
Probably neither that viable in Cameroon but appreciate it's a serious problem.
Comment 2. Tony Searle
I wonder if you have thought of using either large but light potting tubs or large plastic storing boxes with lids, which can then be stacked one on the other to maximise use of space.
I invite our Cameroon colleagues (and anyone else) to commentwhether any of these suggestions could be used in Cameroon. Some problems come to mind: the seedlings can grow too tall for covered boxes. If anything more expensive than these cheap plastic bags is used it should be reused. But it would be hard to get them back from the farmers because if Gaston delivers say 200 seedlings to a farmer he leaves them there, often a long way from Yaoundé, for the farmer to plant out in the following days. So how would he get them back later?
This is a serious problem. We just cannot have a truck that can carry 300 seedlings go with only 100 or less, and even that might not be approved of by the authorities. Any more suggestions?