I was happy to see how well the alley cropping was working. While I only saw one plot with a ripe crop, the maize cobs on the standing crop were much larger than those on plants grown with fertiliser on adjoining land, and the plants were healthier, whereas the untreated land beside both plots bore a meagre and basically failed crop. In the picture below the foreground shows maize struggling to grow without the help of Inga, in contrast to the healthy crop growing with Inga in the background. On the right is a plot grown with fertilizers, which is doing better than the one in the foreground, but not as well as the Inga plot.
Good maize grown with Inga in the back, no Inga and almost no maize in the front. Photo by Antony Melville 2007.
The promotion of Inga in Honduras is very largely in the hands of FUPNAPIB (Fundacion Parque Nacional Pico Bonito), championed by Fito Steiner, president of FUPNAPIB (he has since left to do other conservation work). They employ Victor Coronado on $400 per month, exclusively to promote the use of Inga. He has been doing a great job in promoting Inga alley cropping to the farmers in the surrounding area. While he cannot drive, he regularly visits communities in the area to find new potential users and help existing users, frequently driven by Marvin Zavala, often using public transport.
Below is a picture of Pablo standing in his healthy maize crop grown with the help of Inga. Pablo is retained with the help of FUPNAPIB to promote Inga in the El Carbon area.
I went out with Victor on five days. We went on one short trip by bus, then for three full days each to Olanchito, then San Marcos and then to El Carbon de Olancho. I also visited Victor's home plot, followed by a lovely walk in the forest next door.
Fito Steiner himself was away in the USA and did not arrive back until towards the end of my stay, so I didn't get the chance to talk to him as much as I would have liked.
At the time of my visit Fito was looking for land to purchase for a replacement central demo farm as CURLA (La Ceiba University), who own the existing farm and seed nursery have to be paid for seeds or any access to the Inga plot there. It is therefore very advantageous for FUPNAPIB to have their own. Since my visit a suitable plot has been purchased with money from Rainforest Saver.
It is the local plots that have generated demand. It is therefore essential that this plot on expensive land close to La Ceiba is used to promote Inga further afield than the Pico Bonito buffer zone. It will cost a bit of money to bring people in to see the plot, though its maintenance can probably be covered without difficulty by Victor and Marvin. I see no reason why it should not function without buildings for some time, though eventually we hope to be able to raise more for it.
Pablo, Honduran farmer. in his tall crop of maize grown with Inga. Photo by Antony Melville 2007.
Victor Coronado. Photo by Antony Melville 2007.
Summary of Inga plots in the Pico Bonito buffer zone:
Olanchito - 17 plots
San Marcos - 14 plots
El Carbon de Olancho - 12 plots; 20 more people wanting bags; 5 more wanting it in another community; and 3 more in another
Santiagita - 5 plots
One or two others.
Total - just about 50 plots.
One question is how can funds channeled through Pico Bonito be used for promoting Inga beyond the Pico B buffer zone? Apart from the Pico Bonito zone and the MOPAWI area in Mosquitia, the only other place in Honduras with evidence of Inga use is the area round Trujillo where it has been sponsored by FUCAGUA: Fundacion Guaimoreto y Calentura who look after two nature reserves.
Photos Copyright © Antony Melville 2007