Na, 102 Inga alley cropping on steep slopes in Honduras at the time of the coronavirus
By Sally Marullo | Newsletter No. 102 May 2020

You may be wondering what’s been happening to our work during the Covid-19 pandemic? Here I report on one of our projects in El Pital in Honduras where work has been continuing despite a lock down. 

 

The government there acted quickly to stop the spread of the virus, imposing a strict curfew and restrictions on freedom of movement on 16 March, a week after the first cases were confirmed. The country has closed sea, land, and aerial borders, suspended education nationwide, shut down transportation and placed price freezes on basic foodstuffs and medical supplies. Internet access has been mostly down. As I write, it remains to be seen whether or not Honduras will escape the worst of the pandemic. 

 

Nevertheless, during this time, our farmers led by our partner Marco have been going about their business of extending Inga Alley Cropping in the Cangrejal Basin. The project now has 8 demonstration plots growing Inga seedlings or trees; two of these plots are fully mature (seeds grow to full maturity after 3 years). Two more plots will be added to the project this year. 

 

Inga seedlings thriving

 

Over the first quarter of 2020, activities included building nurseries of Inga seedlings (taken from Inga tree pods) on some of the new plots, transplanting seedlings into the land, and pruning mature 3-year old trees, plus a whole range of preparation tasks. These are most onerous and involve clearing the land in order to establish new plots, plant out Inga seedlings and clear around young Inga seedlings and trees on all plots. When you consider the incredibly steep nature of the terrain, this is an uphill task indeed and takes much longer to achieve the required result! 

Planting on steep slopes

 

 

Proper maintenance means that more Inga seed pods can be harvested and used to build nurseries to extend current plantations, as well as enabling the start of a couple more sites in 2020.  Parrots have wreaked havoc with Inga seeds pods but happily there are enough to go round, at the moment. 

 

Inga pods eaten by parrots

 

 

The beginning of the year also saw sowing of beans and these crops were ready for harvest at the end of March. Taller crops such as maize can only be grown once the Inga trees have matured. Otherwise vital sunlight is blocked out.

 

Preparing the land for sowing seedlings

 

Fortunately during this unsettling period, there have been no unexpected climatic events so all is set well for the oncoming dry season, providing there is no extended drought like last year. So we are keeping our fingers crossed for the future, and wish the best for our farmers in El Pital. 

 

Sally Marullo, April 2020

 

Photos by Marco