No. 62 What’s the use of Inga alley cropping?
By Tiiu-Imbi Miller | Newsletter No. 62 June 2015

Inga alley cropping is about far more than alleviating poverty with better farming, good as that is in itself. 

By enabling them to cultivate the same plot long term, we save the rainforest that they would otherwise have to keep clearing, just to survive. This contributes to       

  1. Fight against climate change. Obvious really. There’s a huge amount of carbon in those trees, and if you burn them it all goes up into the air.  But while  they are standing they absorb carbon. So slash and burn is a double whammy.
  2. About a quarter of our medicines contain an ingredient originating in the rainforests, and according to one American authority, three quarters of cancer medicines do, For more on this see

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2015:newsletter62UK June 2015:webUK2015:rainforestWeb.jpg

The richness of the rainforest

  1. It is now believed that these great forests create rain that reaches some of the big agricultural areas far from the forests themselves, including major North Americas corn growing areas, as well as affecting the local rainfall.

The relief of poverty also merits a closer look

  1. The UN estimates that we have enough food to feed 12 billion people, and there are only about 7 billion of us. So why do about 1 billion lack adequate food? It is because they are poor, and cannot afford to buy it.  Or do not know how, or lack the means, to grow it efficiently for themselves. Inga alley cropping puts the food right where it is needed.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2015:newsletter62UK June 2015:webUK2015:maizeWeb.jpg

Good crop of maize growing in an Inga alley.

  1. It gives the farmers independence. We can and should help, but in the end the people of these countries have to lift themselves out of poverty. Hand outs will never achieve it.  Hand ups can.
  2. The UN estimates that we have only 60 years worth of good agricultural soil left. I do not know how accurate this dire prediction is, but clearly there is something badly wrong with a lot of our agriculture. Slash and burn certainly gets the soil eroded away fast. Inga alley cropping builds it up. Our Facebook page gives a link to an interesting article by George Monbiot .

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2015:newsletter62UK June 2015:webUK2015:erosianWeb.jpg

Land eroding from slash and burn farming in Western Honduras

  1. Family planning.  Some poor people may need large families when all the family work together to put food on the table, whether that's on the land or for an industrial plantation company etc. Greater food security will enable them to make choices, to have smaller families if they desire, taking the pressure off women to have many children. On the other hand if they want to have a large family, getting better crops will obviously help them to feed everyone well. 
  2. Emigration/immigration.I noticed a Nigerian was mentioned recently on the BBC news as crossing the Mediterranean in one of these overloaded boats. If we allow more and more of these lands to be degraded that option will become more and more attractive.
  3. Terrorism.Repeated slash and burn destroys the land.


Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2015:newsletter62UK June 2015:webUK2015:TFTFimageWeb.jpg

End result of repeated slash and burn farming.

When people become destitute joining terrorist organisations becomes more attractive.  Here’s a quote from other parts of Africa

Africa's Green Wall To Block Terrorism (

‘The Great Green Wall project is designed to stop the degradation of the Sahel, the arid region just south of the desert proper which is the poorest area of the world’s poorest continent.

The southward extension of the Sahara is causing poverty which is believed to feed militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haramin Nigeria,…’

“The effects of desertification are increasingly felt globally as victims turn into refugees” or “turn to radicalisation, extremism or resource-driven wars for survival,” warned the UN.

Lake Chad, which supports 30 million people in four countries, has shrunk to a fifth of its size 50 years ago.

“Most of the guys who are into terrorism in that region used to be farmers, fishermen and herders who depended on the lakes,” said Uche Okpara, an expert on agricultural economics from Leeds University.”

So what can our little Rainforest Saver do about all this?

If you don’t sow little acorns you don’t get great oaks.  

If you have pledged to donate for our crowd funding, thanks a million. We could not do it without you. 

But if you haven’t, we would be ever so grateful if you did, even if it’s only a fiver.

With my very best wishes to you all, pledgers and non-pledgers alike,