No. 56. The Inga keeps growing
By Tiiu-Imbi Miller | Newsletter No. 56 September 2014

Cameroon

We gave Cameroon schools a couple of weeks to settle in after the start of the new school year and then dispatched money from our successful Crowd funding. We hope to bring you news from the schools next month.

Meanwhile, some Inga plots have been enlarged, some new ones have been started, some have been pruned, some crops sown, and the comparison plots without Inga on Mrs. Mendo’s and Gaston’s own farms have been planted as Inga alleys. That will show the power of the Inga to re-fertilise very depleted land.

Akonolinga: Ateba Thomas by his Inga plot which is nearly ready for pruning, and the community nursery for which he cares.

Akonolinga region is a success story with nearly 20 farmers having Inga plots, including 5 new ones.

Ela Elson and Gaston Bityo.

Mr. Ela Elson’s plot at Ambam is one of the best ones. It has just been pruned and planted with maize. Goats have been a problem, so we will have to supply a strong fence. Several neighbouring farmers are interested in the Inga there, but very understandably, they are waiting to see the harvest first. So it is rather desirable not to let the goats eat it!

Ela Elson’s plot at Ambam: before pruning, the pruning, and at least 2 months’ worth of firewood for cooking from the pruning from his small plot of only 200 Inga trees (approx. 300 sq. m.)

 

The neat Ambam plot ready for planting maize, and the maize being planted.

Not all the plots have been as good as the one at Ambam. The one at Kribi was at first not well cared for. Gaston went and got the farmer and they got it sorted and it did well and was pruned. But when they went back to plant the maize much to both Gaston’s and the plot owner’s disappointment it had been burned. That can happen, sometimes by accident when fire is used to clear a neighbouring plot, sometimes when there is a dispute. But our Gaston is not a man to give up, so they went to work, and planted the maize anyway. If there is enough rain the Inga, a tough tree, may recover. We have to wait and see.

Gaston planting maize in the burned plot at Kribi.

The end of the day for a hard worker.

Not very many plots have been pruned yet, partly because we have not had enough money. But maybe that is a good thing. To get the full benefits of the Inga system one really needs to have about three prunings for a good amount of mulch to accumulate. So the first harvest might not always be a success. But the Inga drops leaves all the time, so if the pruning is left to later these will help to add to the mulch and make a successful first harvest more likely. This is important so that the farmers do not get discouraged. The system is very new to them and a good beginning will help a lot.

 

Honduras

We reported recently on progress on the FunaVid mountain where a large demonstration area of Inga alley cropping is being set up. (http://www.rainforestsaver.org/news/no-55a-enjoy-success-our-crowd-funding-and-update). Since then CURLA have given 20,000 Inga seeds to FunaVid. This will really get that project well.

 

Pineapples planted between Inga to prevent erosion on a sloping school plot. That enables one to plant the Inga at a wider spacing so fewer trees are needed and they don’t compete with each other.

 

There is still some work to be done at the six schools where Inga plots have been planted. Some schools have carried on well with the Inga, but others are asking for more instruction from Dr. Valle both for how to manage the Inga and how to grow organic crops. Dr. Valle is happy to go do that. The idea is that besides educating the future farmers the students’ parents will also come to see this new system, and at least some will adopt it. One cannot really expect them to try it before they have seen at least the first harvest. So it is very encouraging that at one school both a teacher and a student are trying Inga at home already.