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Tag: 2021

Ecuador Happenings in Pictures (March-April 2021)

By Antony Melville and Nicola Peel | Newsletter No. 108

A lot has been happening in Ecuador. Here are some highlights.


Nathaly Grefa and Jose Fernadez

Nathaly Grefa (left – pruning an Inga plot) from the Amazon University is regularly supporting Jose Fernandez (right), our farm co-ordinator – giving presentations, doing soil analysis, and measuring carbon.


Under Nathaly’s guidance, we are now making biochar with the wood from the prunings

This is small pieces of charcoal, the fire doused with water rather than smothered as with charcoal for burning; this charcoal is incorporated into the soil where is becomes a carbon sink, but stimulates fertility by providing huge amounts of surface for micro-orgaisms to live on. It is also very porous and holds moisture in the soil.


We have 4 sites so far set up for comparison tests to compare the yield from the Inga alley with a control plot outside (same seed, same day etc) . 

First up Maize:

From the college site at Shushfindi – cobs from the Inga plot are 3 x the size of those from outside

But maybe more interesting, this plot belonging to Angel Encarnacion, produced nothing at all; the Inga was very slow to grow, and after the first pruning the maize came up, but produced no cobs. At the second pruning the trees produced 3 times as much mulch as the first time, and the maize sown in the alleys produced a crop (pictured here), while the control sowing produced nothing at all. This is coming up from a very low level of fertility. 

Then Cassava:

We have 3 plots with comparisons of cassava, planted in May and June last year, so the harvest will start around June this year.

Cassava comparison at Amilcar Pinzon’s : left  – thin plants 2.5m tall inside alley; right straggly plant 1.5m tall outside – Jan 2021.  As of March all are flowering – harvest is expected in June once the seed has set and dried. 


We have our first plot at over 1800 m above sea level.

This site has fish ponds, and grows orchids for sale (right) ; they have a lot of primary forest, and pan for gold in the river.  And here they are sowing the first Inga seeds in November – now 10cm. tall in March (very slow).

But next door is a local species of Inga, which Jose has pruned for a test – in March it has a bud. We need to see flowers to identify the species. 


Meanwhile the Shuar people have done a community prune on their Inga plot (left) and sown medicinal herbs (right) 

They have planted 3 varieties of bean, and just cut back the Inga leaves to stop the beans being shaded: 

The beans, supported on the Inga, are winning!


We have fantastic results with Cocoa grown in the alleys – beautiful healthy fast-growing plants, flowering and fruiting while the plants outside are yellowish and small and not flowering. Since many local cocoa famers are being defeated by an endemic fungal rot “pod rot” (moniliophthora), and the ones in the alleys show no sign of it, we are keen to research the resistance, and are talking to the Cocoa team at Reading University about a possible PhD on the subject.

And back to CASSAVA

While we wait for results from the comparisons with control plots, Jose has harvested from his Inga plot a record Cassava root weighing in at 39 Lbs, where before the Inga he would get about 12 Lbs. 

Thanks for your support!

Antony and Nicola

If you would like to contact the authors of any of the articles please click reply, indicating whether it is for publication or not.  We will be happy to publish your letter and/or forward it to the author, whichever you request. We hope to bring you a monthly or bimonthly newsletter with articles of interest on topics relevant not only to Inga alley cropping, but also some of more general interest, particularly articles relevant to  rainforests, agroforestry and sustainable farming in general.    

Chimpanzees and Inga Alley Cropping (January-February 2021)

By Gaston Bityo | Newsletter No. 107

The Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Centre ( ) is one of many places that have invited our Cameroon partner, Gaston Bityo, to bring them Inga alley cropping.

Chimp at the Sanaga-Yong Rescue centre. Photo © Gaston Bityo

From the Sanaga-Yong website:

‘In the forests of Cameroon, habitat destruction and the illegal ape meat trade are driving chimpanzees rapidly toward extinction. While vulnerable populations dwindle, individuals suffer unimaginably.’

Besides rescuing chimps, particularly orphaned babies, they say

‘We educate and sensitize populations about the importance of conservation, with an emphasis on primary school children.

We increase the engagement of local people through employment opportunities and programs that improve their lives.’

So it is not the chimps that will be doing Inga alley cropping, but the local villagers.

The centre is a long way from Yaoundé, deep in the forests, but there are several villages nearby as well.  The approximate location is marked on the maps below.

Green circle marks where the Sanaga-Young Chimp rescue centre is located, and some of the villages that Gaston Bityo took the Inga to are marked. 

Map of Cameroon 

This trip was made possible by a grant from the Zurich Community Trust, for which we are very grateful.  However Gaston would like to make a follow up visit. Past experience has shown that the farmers work much more diligently when there is follow up.  We need to raise some more money to cover this.  

Please help us to do this by supporting our raffle

You can buy the ‘tickets’ (it’s all online, we email you your numbers) at

Or you can first check out the lovely prizes at

Thank you very much

Fund raising during the coronavirus has been much harder and we really do need your help. We are a small group, the support of every person counts. Please support our important work, and support the donors of the prizes and the work of those who have set up this raffle (there’s more work involved than you might think).

Thank you very much.

The closing date for the raffle is 26th February 2021.


By Gaston Bityo

We started our trip to the Sanaga Yong Chimpanzee Rescue, me and Calixte, on Tuesday the 17th of November 2020.

But before we left, I called the Responsible of the Sanaga Yong to tell him that we are leaving Yaoundé, but we don’t know the way to get to the Sanaga Yong. I know only from Yaoundé to Nnanga Eboko. And he said we will find somebody waiting for us at Nnanga Eboko. He will lead us to the Sanaga Yong. We left Yaoundé in the morning around 8 o’clock, met the man at Nnanga Eboko and reached the Sanaga Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Centre in the night.  We could not go fast because of the bad roads.

The Sanaga Yong is located in the heart of the forest. There are just small houses. On arrival at the Sanaga Yong we found that people living and working there were waiting for us because they were aware of our arrival. Immediately they showed us where to spend the night and other facilities. And after, food was served to us, but we didn’t eat because we were very tired and preferred to go to bed immediately. But before we go to bed, the Responsible came to greet and welcome us. After greetings and a short chat, we sat for a moment to draw up a plan of work for the next 2 days: Wednesday and Thursday, because we were supposed to leave the Sanaga Yong on Friday the 20th of November 2020. Then we went to bed.

The house where we spent the nights

In the morning water was served to take a bath and later breakfast. After breakfast we started the work. We were supposed to visit 10 villages, but that was impossible in 2 days, so I suggested that we could choose a place in a village, where all the people can gather. It could be the chief’s house. Then the truck can transport all the other people from their villages to that place and bring them back after the sensitization meeting. The idea was appreciated and that was what we did. So we agreed to do 5 villages the first day and the other five, the next day. The villages we met the first day are: Mbinang, Ngombe 1, Meyene, Bikol1 et Bikol 2. But because the distance between the villages is too long, we decided again to divide the 5 villages into 2 groups. The first group with 2 villages (Mbinang and Ngombe 1) and the second group with 3 villages (Meyene, Bikol 1 and Bikol 2).

We started with Mbinang and Ngombe 1. 22 farmers came, both men and women.  After the introduction by one of the responsible people of the Sanaga Yong to tell the farmers who we are and why we came, I took the floor to explain to these local farmers how the Inga alley cropping works. What are the advantages and benefits of it? Why they should abandon their traditional way of growing food to adopt this new system. I also told them the main objectives of the Cameroon Inga Project: To assure food security to farmers by increasing their food production and incomes and to protect the environment.

Explaining the Inga system and why the farmers should adopt it.

After these explanations were done we distributed the Inga pods we brought to the farmers to open (after having shown them how to open them). They could also eat the white pulp that is inside the pods round the seeds. They then filled the biodegradable bags the Sanaga Yong project brought with soil and then put the seeds into the bags, watered them and would then take them back home with them to start their own nurseries.

Explaining how to do the Inga system and Showing how to open an Inga pod

The farmers appreciated a lot this exercise, opening the Inga pods, eating the white pulp, filling the bags and putting the seed into the bag and watering it and bringing the bags home.

Filling in the biodegradable bags with soil

After this exercise we distributed the illustrated Inga leaflets we brought to the farmers and some refreshments were served to all. Then the truck brought those coming from a long distance back to their homes and the meeting was over.

Giving out the leaflets

Then we moved to the other 3 villages the same day. And we did the same things as in the first villages. 

Explaining the Inga system to the farmers in the other villages

At the end of the day, we went back to where we were staying.

The next day we took the road to the other side of Sanaga Yong project to meet the other farmers from the five villages which are: Ngock-Etele, Dimako1, Dimako 2, Mbarge and Ngombe 2.

We did exactly the same thing as we did at the first villages the day before.

Farmers from Ngombe 2 and Mbarge

Farmers from Ngock-etele, Dimako 1 and Dimako 2

At the end, the people of the Sanaga Yong project were very satisfied with the work we did there. We agreed that we should go back in March 2021 to see what the farmers have done with the Inga seeds we gave them. Did they start the nurseries or not, and make new plans for the future.

By Gaston Delor Bityo 


This way of farming is very new to them.  Please help us find the money for a follow up visit by supporting our raffle.

You can buy the tickets at

Or you can first check out the lovely prizes at

Thank you very much

Can you tell your family and friends about the raffle?

Can you put it on your Facebook page?

We really do appreciate any help you can give us.

Thank you very much