Year 7 of our 10 Year program!

We are now nearing the end of year 7 of the foreseen 10-year Program, Land for Life. In this second 5-year phase, the aim has been to reduce emphasis on establishing Inga alley plots for basic grains with new families, and rather to concentrate on the existing families and to establish 2nd or 3rd plots with them for cash-crops. This fits with the overall strategy of establishing the entire Guama Model with 200+ families over the 10-year program, but it disappoints the growing number of new families coming to us and asking to be involved. The team do not want to turn them away and we are resolving the dilemma of having too few “boots on the ground” by asking the families to form local associations, to nominate one or two people to receive training, etc. and to establish the plots for themselves. There are now hundreds of families, in both catchments, wanting the model.

Pepper on living stakes (Gliricidia sepium) inter-planted with Turmeric on the upper terrace. These cultivars grow well together and are unrelated. The Curcuma has flowered and we are waiting for its foliage to die back before harvesting the rhizomes. These are very easy to lift as they favour the soft organic soil created by the mulch. We see this combination of cultivars as a very viable strategy for the families.

I feel that it could be important for the project’s future to have complete examples of the whole Guama Model established at river catchment scale to convince decision makers and large potential international funding bodies that the model is both effective and replicable.

While we press ahead with this, other components of the model are being produced and distributed. This includes around 70,000 pepper seedlings in anticipation of expected demand and as many Inga seedlings as we can find seed.

Cacao associated with Inga for shade, and as its only source of Nitrogen, is already a big component and, since 2012, we have produced and distibuted over 250,000 hybrid or grafted saplings. All media report a growing global demand for high quality chocolate and we see this as an organic winner. Both India and China are seen as massive present and future markets.

I received the IFOAM Organic Farming Innovation Award at the 19th World Organic Congress in New Delhi during November 2017. This has been paid into the IF account.

The UN Congress on Global Food Security (cfs44) in FAO Rome was a valuable experience in raising IF’s profile. No immediate results flowed from it; and none were expected. However, my being there to organise a side-event and also to speak in the main assembly was worthwhile. The FAO Chief Advisor in Agroforestry now knows who we are and could be involved in evaluating projects for GCF and/or GEF funding (see below).