An Amazing Agroforestry Story: The Inga Model in Central America

MON, FEB 22, 2021 (1:10:42)

The Inga Foundation’s founder and director Mike Hands has been working to halt the destruction of rainforests from slash and burn agriculture for over 20 years. An experienced tropical ecologist and scientific researcher, Mike divides his time between his farm in Cornwall, UK, and the Inga Foundation’s Land for Life program in Honduras. Now in year 10, the locally-led program has exceeded all expectations (100% organic food security, protecting wildlife and marine habitats, enriching and improving soil, and preserving water sources) and been recognized as a game changer for people and the planet with 2,600 acres of highly degraded land regenerated, and 284,000 tons of CO2 sequestered/avoided. The program is replicable to the entire humid tropics with native Inga. The “Guama Model” of Inga Alley Cropping with the nitrogen-fixing Inga has transformed the lives of 300+ rural, subsistence farming families who have planted over 4 million trees. The resilient, fast-growing Inga tree alleys provide annual, renewable firewood and survived 7 months of drought and the recent back-to-back hurricanes.

Distinguished professor Rattan Lal talks with Mike Hands about the program’s success and promise.

+ BIO: Mike Hands

The Inga Foundation’s founder and director Mike Hands has been working to halt the destruction of rainforests from slash and burn agriculture for over 20 years. An experienced tropical ecologist and scientific researcher, Mike divides his time between his farm in Cornwall, UK, and the Inga Foundation’s Land for Life Project in Honduras.. Now in year 10, the locally-led program has exceeded all expectations (100% organic food security, protecting wildlife and marine habitats, enriching and improving soil, and preserving water sources) and been recognized as a game changer for people and the planet with 2,600 acres of highly degraded land regenerated, and 284,000 tons of CO2 sequestered/avoided. The program is replicable to the entire humid tropics with native Inga. The “Guama Model” of Inga Alley Cropping with the nitrogen-fixing Inga has transformed the lives of 300+ rural, subsistence farming families who have planted over 4 million trees. The resilient, fast-growing Inga tree alleys provide annual, renewable firewood and survived 7 months of drought and the recent back-to-back hurricanes.

+ BIO: Rattan Lal

Rattan Lal is a soil scientist. His work focuses on regenerative agriculture through which soil can help resolve global issues such as climate change, food security and water quality.

He was awarded the 2019 Japan Prize for the sustainable soil management for global food security and mitigation of climate change.

On June 11, 2020, Professor Lal was named the recipient of the prestigious World Food Prize-2020. His research diverged from the conventional 1970s soil fertility strategy of heavy reliance on commercial fertilizers. His research led a better understanding of how no-till farming, cover crops, crop residues, mulching, and agroforestry can restore degraded soils, increasing organic matter by sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil, and help combat rising carbon dioxide levels in the air.

Lal worked as a Senior Research Fellow with the University of Sydney from 1968-69, and then as a Soil Physicist at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, from 1970 to 1987. In 1987 he returned to Ohio State University, where as of 2019 he was a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center.

Lal served as President of the International Union of Soil Science for the 2017-2018 period.

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Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
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Life Saves the Planet
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