No.85 The Inga project in Ecuador
By Antony Melville | Newsletter No. 85 December 2017

The Inga trees have been growing on the 16 demonstration plots that were successfully established in April 2016 following the initial training held in February 2016. Some owners have taken better care of their plots than others, and some have better soil than others. Some have grown fast, some slowly. The three fastest-growing ones are already big enough to prune, so the pruning demonstration and preparation for crop sowing will be held very soon, in early January 2018. Dr Guillermo Valle will come down from Honduras to teach, and along with local farmers, people have been invited to attend from Universities, the Ministry of Agriculture, local NGOs, and leaders in agroecology, and I will be joining them too.


The main demonstration will be at Finca Chavez, the family farm of Ermel Chavez. He is leading the project.


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Ermel Chavez plot.


We will also demonstrate pruning on Daicy Vaca’s land, which is two hours downstream into the Amazon at Cuyabeno.


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Well grown Inga on Daicy Vaca's land


Some sites have grown very slowly; most of these are sited close to oil wells, and subject to air pollution from gas flaring.


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 Poorly growing Inga on what is likely to be contaminated land.


We are commissioning soil tests for four sites to have some background on the question of how badly the oil workings have contaminated the soil. If with patience the Inga system can succeed in polluted ground it will be quite a success, but that may not be known for another two or three years.


The first 16 sites were provided with seedlings by the College where the first training was held, and the farms concerned belong to the students’ families, former students, or teachers at the College – the Unidad Juan Jimenez.  Below is the plot at the college; it will probably have to wait another couple of months before pruning.



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In January 2017 seed was again available on Inga trees in the area. With instruction from Ermel Chavez and his brother Patricio, 15 members of the farmers’ group Frente de Defensa de Amazonia collected seed, set up nurseries, and planted out pilot plots on their land. Below is a photo of the best of these plots taken in September 2017, just 4 1/2 months from planting out.



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New plot by Frente de Defunsa de Amazonia


If there is seed again in January 2018, there may be a new batch of farms starting. But if all goes well, by the end of 2018 we should have harvests from 7 or 8 of the first round of plots, so when seed comes in early 2019 there should be a large pool of farmers who have seen those harvests, ready to start nurseries and grow their own plots, without much help from us.


I should be back with an update after I get back from Ecuador at the end of January.