ECHOcommunity Conversations

Best Practices - Alley Cropping-Agroforestry and Intercropping

I am conducting research on best practices (tropics) for intercropping and alley cropping. Would love to hear of experiences and sources for information on best practices for intercropping, especially utilizing trees with crops.

Here is an ECHOcommunity Collection that may aid your research and conversation.

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ECHO has several other relevant publications:

Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT)

TN #60 The Farmer Managed Agro-forestry Farming System (FMAFS)

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Hi Michael,
Be sure to visit ingatree.org if you want information for the landscape-scale tropical agroforestry success of Inga Alley Cropping in Honduras. The program is starting year 8 of 10–way beyond proof of concept with proof in the landscape–over 2 1/2 million trees planted—and 100% food security for families in 2 years— (founder and director is Mike Hands–and implemented by an amazing and committed team of Honduran foresters, nursery staff, and agronomists). The Guama model is detailed on the website and the team has facilitated Inga alleys established in 10 countries in the humid tropics. The alleys withstand 7 month droughts, hurricane deluges, and provide all-important firewood for families for a year when the alleys are pruned and can be scaled to the entire humid tropics…Lots of pics on FB---------Inga Foundation

Best wishes,
Lorraine

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Hi Michael

Yes I can help you. i am doing a similar work in cameroon, Central africa

please send me you contact and I will gwt in touch with you

Gaston

VSD Cameroon

Lorraine,

Have you seen any kind of documentation or training materials that the Inga Foundation has put out? I’m in West Africa and would really like to apply what they have done/try some experimentation of my own with similar strategies and would like to see more than just PR photos. I contacted Mike Hands a few years ago and he seemed very hesitant to recommend anything outside of Latin America. I know their website says they had a trial going on in Congo to try to identify tree species for that region that would be local alternatives to Inga, but everything seems quite out of date. Anyone else have any recommendations for doing alleycropping in West Africa and what tree species could be options. I don’t know the conditions in Latin America as well, but here the dry season often has bush fires that consume almost the entire uninhabited landscape, which make new tree plantings very difficult during the first dry season, particularly because irrigation is not an option in many places.

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Hi Tyler–Gaston has connected with Michael so he will be helpful to you as well with his work in Cameroon—Inga has helped facilitate alleys in 10 countries and Mike is focused on 8th year of Land for Life in HN…he has a training video from 2015 (multi language) and a training manual in Spanish—I have the video if you would like me to mail you a copy. I volunteer with the Inga Foundation USA group and we are active here in central Virginia. Mike is back in the UK and working on complex grant so I know he is out of pocket for a while. If you have time to send me some more info/questions, I’ll be glad to reach out to him soon.
Best wishes,
Lorraine

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narrowpassagepermaculture@gmail.com would work great.

Thanks!!

Michael

Greetings Gaston,

I am helping to prepare a small farmer agriculture proposal for South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions of Sudan. We are interested in adding agro-forestry and intercropping. I have been reading this conversation with interest and am interested in what your experience has been in Cameroon? Also, what is the average annual rainfall in your area? In South Kordofan it is 450-600mm while in Blue Nile it is 600-800mm.

Edwin Dysinger

I’m exploring the same idea in Haiti. I plan to implement two types of systems. One that will grow into a mixed orchard/food forest. For that I’m using syntropic farming techniques, for which I have not completed my plan, but will share with ECHO when I do.

The other system will always allow for high sun exposure, so the people can grow whatever market crops they want. After doing a lot of research, I have decided to stick with the inga alley technique. I’ve been tempted to substitute with other species, but after a lot of consideration have decided against it. It is too much of a risk to be doing trial and error with the poor farmers here.

Other trees may not produce the right amount or size of leaves that cover the ground adequately. Plus these are nitrogen fixers. Plus Mike Hand has systems which are 30+ years old and still vigorous.

For me its worth the challenge of getting fresh inga seeds here and starting a little nursery.

By the way, if you want a simple practical guide which from what I can tell teaches exactly the Inga Foundation method, check out this pdf:

It also has a design for cocoa farming.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Roger

Thanks so much Roger, This is great!

Michael

I am seeing more and more about ingatree.org. Thanks so much for the response!

Michael

My pleasure.

I just found this 12 minute video as well. It basically covers all the important points in implementing these systems right from inga seed collection to alley maintenance.

Check it out:

@Roger_Gietzen I have seen inga grow in coffee regions of Haiti for shade, this would be in the hills of North East Haiti in places like Mobin Crochu and Bwalorens. I wonder if you could get cuttings or seeds from farmers in those areas, though I’m sure the Inga Foundation has a good source also.

Thanks for the tip.

The good news is I’ve already found a couple sources for inga locally and have a team of kids just waiting for the seeds to ripen (usually happens in Haiti in April).

I learned from Mike Hands that the seeds must be planted shortly after harvest, they cannot be dried and saved. Although maybe you could save them in the crisper door of a refrig for a little while.

But its good to know of some other sources, because if I have a good experience with this, I plan to encourage others to do the same.

Hope all is well with you my friend.