Progress summary in 2014!

2014 was a difficult year with “El Niño but much progress has been made! here is a brief summary of our wins and challenges!

Extension of the Guama Model
The team has continued to make outstanding progress in establishing the Guama Model with new families; in holding open-days; and in helping establish nurseries and alley-plots on newly-recruited families’ land. There are now 163 families involved in the two river catchments; and more are approaching us.

This has been an “El Niño” year. All operations were affected by an almost unprecedented drought lasting for 3-4 months. Many thousands of Inga seedlings had to be retained in nurseries until reliable rains allowed the team to help plant them out on the many steep, exposed slopes of the family holdings.

Demonstration plots & seed-banks
Our demonstration farm at Las Flores, San Marcos in the Cuero Valley is now fully functional. All the Inga alleys were pruned at roughly the 18-20-month stage of growth. About 75% of them now hold a variety of cash and subsistence crop cultivars. The Inga seed orchard on the farm’s upper slopes produced a first and massive crop in October.

The CURLA site, having been completely replanted, was pruned in March and planted to the long-term nutrient experiment that we have agreed with CURLA. This involves monitoring the responses of cash-crop cultivars to varying levels of rock-phosphate and Dolomitic lime supplemented with “K-Mag” (balanced sulphates of K and Mg).

Luis has been training the young extension workers to graft trees; mainly Rambutan and Cacao. There are many thousands of both in the nursery at Las Flores ready for distribution to the families. Over 40,000 seedlings of timber trees were raised at Las Flores and all have been distributed to the families.

In addition to our two professionals, we are now employing six full-time extension workers and a variable number of casual field workers.

Inga seed
Until this October we had been buying in Inga seed from whichever sources could be identified locally. The first flowering episode at Las Flores occurred in a few trees last March. Most of the ensuing seed was lost due to lack of rain. However, once the rainfall pattern had re-established itself, a massive flowering event followed and we can now hope to be fully self-sufficient in seed production of both the favoured Inga species. A wider genetic diversity; not only within the genus, but also within the top two species, is a high priority. I particularly want I. marginata and I. samanensis there.