No. 88 Follow up of the Baka Inga project. Part 1
By Martin Cradicink and Andi Ma | Newsletter No. 88 May 2018

Following our successful crowd funding last year and Gaston’s subsequent visit to the Baka (pygmies) in September 2017 to help them get started with Inga alley cropping, Gaston has just done a follow up visit to Lakabo. Gaston’s report follows as Part 2 of this newsletter. Martin Cradick and Andi Main (from Global Music Exchange, GME), who were instrumental in introducing the Baka to our project, have also visited the Baka since. Here are their reports.

 

How the Baka are doing Part 1. First update.

By Martin Cradick and Andi Main

 

Following a meeting with Nicola Peel in 2016, Martin Cradick and GME became interested in Inga Alley Cropping. This is a method of improving the fertility of poor forest soils and is an alternative to the slash and burn technique, which relies on constantly clearing new plantations. This is now practically impossible for the Baka due to the increasing restrictions on forest access.

 

In association with Rainforest Saver a successful crowd funding campaign was organized with the specific intent of teaching the Baka the value of the Inga Alley method and how to put it into practice. With the collaboration of Gaston Bityo of VSD (Volunteers Serving Development), supported by Rainforest Saver, and Leonard Mbague of AIDER, a four-day initiation course was organized in the Baka village of Lakabo near Abong Mbang, Two members of Gbiné made the 3-day journey from Moloundou to attend in September 2017.

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In January 2018 Andi Main and Francoise Laloux of GME met with Gaston in Yaoundé. Gaston gave them feedback on the course. He also gave them Inga seeds and seedlings to take to Gbiné to continue the project at Gbiné. 

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With Gaston in Yaounde
After the long journey to the east Fidolin and Kommanda, who had attended the course, showed Andi and Françoise the Inga that they had planted, and took charge of the new seeds and seedlings. Not only did they set up a nursery for the seeds, sifting soil, creating shade and regular watering with help from Guy and Freddie, but also held a meeting for those interested to explain the value and importance of the Inga Alley method.

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Kommanda planting Inga seeds and a few seedlings

 

The seeds grew rapidly and well so by the end of March they were planted out in a double alley 4 meters apart and almost 20 meters long. The spaces between were planted with Tomato and Artemisia seedlings. It will now take a year before the Inga are ready for their first pruning, but the young trees are well established and should soon provide shelter for the crops between them. Improving soil fertility will take longer as the trees need to develop their root systems and the pruning will add leaf matter to the humus layer.

 

Although the results are not immediately tangible the Baka are well aware of the potential benefits. They are hopeful that the method will provide a real improvement in productivity without the need to slash and burn new clearings. When the alleys are established they will be using them to plant maize, peanuts and tomatoes, along with their usual subsistence crops.

 

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Inga planted in alley

 

We would like to thank Rainforest Saver and Gaston Bityo for their support and congratulate the Baka of Gbiné for their involvement and hard work.