Land For Life Project, Honduras
This is a 10-year program which supports up to 200 families in the area surrounding Pico Bonito National Park, Northern Honduras, to give up the practice of slash and burn and switch to sustainable agriculture using Inga Alley Cropping, improving their food security and livelihoods in the process.
We are doing this by working with each family to implement the flexible Guama Model for Inga Alley Cropping in the way which best meets the individual needs of each family. Alongside Inga Alley Cropping, there is support for families to establish fruit-tree crops and to reforest areas of their land. (Full details on the Guama Model and the strategy behind it can be found here.) Each new family has been asked to plant a small number of Inga trees as an orchard to provide enough seed for a further 3 families to take up alley cropping.
Our work is focused on the communities living in two key river catchments which border Pico Bonito National Park – the Cuero and the Cangrejal River Valleys. At present we are aiming to bring on board 40 new families each year and so far this year it looks like we will not only achieve that target, but exceed it by a wide margin, bringing us to a total of over 163 families involved in the project ( by September 2014)
The Cuero and Cangrejal Valleys are of critical conservation importance as they border Pico Bonito National Park which holds a large area of primary tropical rainforest which is home to jaguars, pumas and howler monkeys alongside a wealth of other biodiversity. As well as this, the Park also provides important ecosystem services, including maintaining and regulating the flow of the area’s rivers and preventing soil erosion and landslides on the steep mountainous terrain. Slash and burn farming is a major threat to the Park, with much of the buffer zone already degraded by subsistence farming practices and the core zone increasingly at risk.
Las Flores Project Center
A key element of the Land for Life Project is the establishment of a Project Center. In 2012 we purchased a 7ha piece of land in the Cuero Valley on which to set up the Project Center, which includes a demonstration farm to showcase the benefits of Inga Alley Cropping, an Inga seed orchard, a tree nursery, education facilities and a cash crop processing plant.
Since 2012 we have made great progress in getting the Project Center up and running. The Inga seed orchard has been planted and produced our first crop of over 200,000 seeds in Sept 2014. A large tree nursery has been constructed and currently houses over 75,000 seedlings, including cacao, rambutan, mahogany, and of course Inga. The Inga alleys for the demonstration farm are growing pineapple, plantain, malanga ( taro), datil bananas and we are developing pepper.
In the long term, the Project Center will serve as the nerve center as we work to spread Inga Alley Cropping across Central America. The Center will have the capacity to host courses, allowing groups from across Central America to come and see Inga Alley Cropping in action both on the Project Center and in the local area, then return and disseminate the knowledge of this revolutionary alternative to slash and burn within the communities where they work.