No 70 Planting Inga alleys on steep slopes with Honduran farmers
By Tiiu Miller | Newsletter No. 70 April 2016

By Tiiu-Imbi Miller

Based on the reports and photos of Marco and of Warren Darrell

Rainforest Saver supports several projects to spread Inga alley cropping in Honduras. Each takes a different approach to the dissemination of this sustainable farming technique, which is designed to replace the destructive practice of slash and burn farming.

We have reported more recently on FunaVid, managed by Dr. Dodson, and Dr. Guillermo Valle’s schools’ projects. So this is about Marco Valle’s work with some local farmers.

Marco's project

Marco has been a partner of Rainforest Saver for several years. He began working with a local farmer, Mr. Perez, on a steep hillside in the Cangrejal Basin about 3 years ago. The steep sloped land has been planted with Inga in batches over these years and now has about 2500 Inga trees of various ages on it.

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Mr. Perez on his steep land with the Inga trees, now about 3 to 4 meters tall. Photo Warren Darrell, January 2016.

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Mr. Perez with an A-frame. This is an easy to make tool used to ensure that the Inga rows follow the contours to reduce erosion. On the left ,steep slope on Mr. Perez’s land with the next batch of well grown Inga soon ready for pruning. Photos Marco.

The oldest Inga trees were pruned for the first time in September 2015. Beans were planted in the pruned Inga alleys in October.

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Mr. Perez’s pruned plot ready for planting with beans in October. Note the branch laid across the Inga stems to stop erosion, and the carpet of leaves that feeds and protects the crops. Photo Marco  October 2015.

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Firewood from the Inga prunings. Note also the steep but nonetheless cultivated hillsides overlooking this demonstration plot. Photo Marco October 2015.

The larger branches make good firewood for the kitchen, and the remainder is left on the ground as mulch.

The first pruning did not provide a lot of mulch. It has to build up over several prunings. So this first crop was not very good, as the land was very degraded to begin with. Marco found that out when he tried to grow beans and tomatoes there earlier, before the Inga had been pruned, and got no crop at all. So any crop is an improvement, but we expect to get a bigger crop in the future when more mulch has built up.


Beans in Inga mulch. The beans were sown in the autumn and are ready for harvest. Photo Warren Darrell January 2016

Marco and Mr. Perez with bunch of beans. Photo Warren Darrell January 2016.

Some of the Inga trees on Mr. Perez’s land have flowered and produced pods. Unfortunately some of these were lost when strong winds broke one of these trees, and birds have been helping themselves to the Inga pods too.

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Mr. Perez showing the Inga which are producing prolific seed in these pods. Photo Warren Darrell, January 2016

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Mr. Perez in his nursery with a few Inga seedlings. Photo Warren Darrell, January 2016 and the nursery at an earlier time when it was full of seedling. Photo Marco.

Environmentally destructive slash and burn shifting agriculture remains widespread in the region.

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On the left slash and burn close to where Marco is working. Photo Warren Darrell 2016, and on the right slash and burn in the Cangrejal Basin stretches as far as the eye could see. This photo was taken in 2009, and the situation has only been getting worse. Photo Tiiu Miller.

Productive sustainable agroforestry relieves the human pressure to slash and burn the rain forest for unsustainable shifting agriculture.

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Rainforest and the Cangrejal River. Photo Warren Darrell, 2016

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The Cangrejal river. Increased slash and burn would bring sediment into the river, leading to silting up of the river and the coral reefs it flows into. Photo Marco.

We would expect that neighbouring farmers would want to try the Inga system when they have seen a few good harvests in the demonstration plot. However, Marco has been able to persuade two farmers nearby to start Inga alleys already.

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Sticks mark where to plant the Inga seedlings on Mr. Orellana’s land. Photo Marco July 2014.

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Inga Seedlings for extending the planting on Mr. Orellana’s land. Photo Warren Darrell January 2016.

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Inga seedlings waiting to be planted out on Mr. Lobo’s land. Photo Marco January 2016.

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Mr. Lobo’s steeply sloping land marked out for planting Inga to follow the contours.  Photo Marco January 2016.


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Newly planted Inga seedlings on Mr. Lobo’s land. Photo Marco  January 2016.




All these plots will serve as demonstration plots to expand the Inga technique to many more farmers in the surrounding area.


With best wishes,


Tiiu-Imbi Miller, Mrs., PhD.


The Rainforest Saver Foundation 

Scottish registered charity no. SC039007


+44 (0) 131 477 6970



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