No 103 Remember the Baka?
By Andi Main and Tiiu Miller | Newsletter No. 103 June 2020

In 2017 we did a very successful crowd funding to enable Gaston Bityo, our Cameroon partner, to take Inga alley cropping to the Baka (Pygmies) of SE Cameroon, who had requested it.   We thank again all these of you who contributed. 

 

 

 

The Baka need all the help that we can give them. They are being driven out of their forest home and left to settle in roadside villages with minimal resources. The Inga enables them to make the most of any land they have.  It increases the fertility of the soil so that each plot can be cultivated long term with good yields without having to clear any more forest to get fertile soil. 

 

Gaston visited the Baka in September 2017 at Lakabo and gave the training and provided some Inga seedlings. He re-visited them in 2018. You can read about these visits in the newsletters of 2017 and 2018 on our website (www.rainforestsaver.org) under News. However two Baka made the long journey of two to three days from Moloundou to Lakabo to get the training so that they could establish Inga alley cropping in their region also. 

 

The fund raising and training were organised by Rainforest Saver and Gaston’s VSD (Volunteers Serving Development)  in close association with Global Music Exchange (http://globalmusicexchange.org), who have been supporting the Baka for a very long time. It is not easy to get information about how the Baka are doing, particularly the ones in far away Moloundou,. But Andi Main, from Global Music Exchange, has visited them and has sent us several photos. 

 

Update by Andi Main.

 

This is a seed nursery for Inga and vegetable seeds on the left and the first alley on the right. Photos by Andi Main, December 2018.

 

Resting under the Inga trees, the alley pruned, and furrows made for planting. Photo Andi Main, January 2019. 

 

First visit.

The first alley in Gbine (near Moloundou) was in good shape.  It was pruned in January. The Baka have created furrows and transplanted tomatoes and peppers. 

 

The tomatoes and chillies did well. They even had some to sell. But insects ate too many of the cabbages and lettuce. Marie grew a good crop of maize beside the first alley. 

 

The planting in green leaves was a trial, but there were also dead leaves on the ground from leaf drop before any pruning that would have begun to rot down to give the soil fertility.  Even the green leaves are useful as they provide good ground cover and suppress the weeds.  

When I left they had over a hundred bedding in the driveway and a hundred more in the nursery. 

 

Second visit.

This year Francoise and I went out in November. When we arrived it was to find the original alley in fine form and the 120 seedlings I had left in the nursery had been planted out in three more alleys.

         In the first weeks of our stay the team pruned the mature alley and cleared around the younger trees. 

 

The alley before pruning, and freshly pruned. Photo by Andi Main, November 2019.

 

Beans and tomatoes were grown in a seed bed and when the Inga leaves had dried out a couple of rows were planted in the alley, again not really the season but a complete planting out will wait for the rains. 

Seed bed, and Ndondi preparing sieved soil for the seed bed. Photos by Andi Main January 2020.

 

The pruned alley in January 2020 with the leaves from the prunings rotting down nicely, and the Gbine Inga team, Kommanda, Sonossi and Guy. Photos by Andi Main, January 2020 and November 2019.

        Our "mother " tree has flowered but gave no seed this year but it is still young. At the moment we have almost 300 trees in 5 alleys but no seedlings.

I don’t know how this year’s planting has fared. We left two rows of tomatoes and two of beans both of which should have been eaten by now. And they had a lot more to sow and plant out with the rains in April /May I have had no direct news since leaving in February.

Wishing you all good health and keep safe,

Tiiu and Andi,

Rainforest Saver and Global Music Exchange.