Ahead of schedule! Year 8 Progress

Starting in 2012, our Program objective was to establish, within 10 years, all components of the Guama Model with 100 subsistence farming families, in two river catchments in northern Honduras. You can read about the Guama Model here but it basically uses Inga trees, cropped in alleys to allowing a family to produce enough food to sustain itself without cutting down and burning the forest. On top of that there is additional land to make cash crops to avoid poverty and then further land, previously cut down, can be left regenerate into rain forest.

The rivers Cangrejal and Cuero form the East and West boundaries respectively of one of the region’s last remnants of lowland, pre-montane and montane rain forests; the Pico Bonito National Park. We thus work with families in the Park’s Buffer Zone.

The overall goal of the Program is to demonstrate to major decision-makers, funding agencies, etc. the effectiveness of the model as a sustainable alternative to slash-and-burn agriculture at landscape scale. Concentrating effort and resources in these two catchments, we would investigate whether successful introduction and extension of the complete model to a “critical mass” of families would result in its spontaneous replication amongst their neighbours; and, further, would show that the model can be replicated, at scale, across the whole of the wet forest zone of Honduras and the rest of Central America.

The overall goal of the Program is to demonstrate to major decision-makers, funding agencies, etc. the effectiveness of the model as a sustainable alternative to slash-and-burn agriculture at landscape scale. Concentrating effort and resources in these two catchments, we would investigate whether successful introduction and extension of the complete model to a “critical mass” of families would result in its spontaneous replication amongst their neighbours; and, further, would show that the model can be replicated, at scale, across the whole of the wet forest zone of Honduras and the rest of Central America.

Families involved
The team estimated that, by mid-2019, some 300 families in the two catchments had Inga a-c in various stages of development and/or use. We are in process of compiling a comprehensive data-base of all Inga plantings of the 4 Guama components, the areas of each and their geographical co-ordinates. When compiled, I shall publish these much more precise data here.

Trees
We estimate that, since 2012, around 3 million trees have been planted in various configurations; mainly Inga alleys. The number includes over 250,000 grafted or hybrid Cacao and a similar number of Rambutan, Citrus and Avocado. Also included are around 150,000 timber trees of at least 8 species including Mahogany, Rosewoods, etc.

Inga farmer Pablo Pinto with the first bunches of cropped bean plants from his alley plot high in the Cangrejal valley. The beans were broadcast into his Inga alleys before pruning; the foliage was then mulched on top. This crop was produced without a single drop of rain since. We attribute this to the soil organic material built up in the soil by 3 previous prunings and to the 100% physical protection and cooling of the soil by deep mulch.