This page is for sharing practical lessons that we are learning as we go along, relevant ta all aspects of Inga alley cropping, how to implement it and how best to promote the Inga system to the actual farmers who would benefit from it.
The Inga trees seem to grow faster in Cameroon and Ecuador than in Honduras. This is likely due to Cameroon and Ecuador being closer to the equator. This has caused a tendency for the Inga to over grow the crop while it is still growing, leading to no or reduced harvests. The remedy is of course to prune the Inga again while the crop is growing. Farmers need to be made aware of this. The system is very new to them and they don’t necessarily think of it themselves.
It seems too that rather than leave an interval of 6 weeks between pruning and sowing a shorter interval of maybe 4 weeks is appropriate. However, for the very first pruning this might not allow enough prunings to rot down. If there has been good leaf fall beforehand that might not matter, but otherwise it might.
Possibly wider alleys, say 5 or 6m rather than 4m, would help too.
The Inga have grown too fast and are badly shading the struggling maize.
The farmers have a tendency to plant maize in the alleys while the Inga is still young. It is therefore necessary to emphasise that they must not plant a tall crop that will shade the Inga.
When the farmers put their Inga into cocoa farms rather than follow instructions for alley cropping, this will help their cocoa a lot, and give seeds for later planting of more Inga, hopefully in alley structure as well.
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