Inga tree agroforestry in Honduras


Authors: Mike Hands and Lorraine Potter

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62


Language: English


Slash-and-burn agriculture is a critical issue in Honduras and other tropical regions, as it causes deforestation, soil degradation, erosion, crop failure, food insecurity, and vulnerability to natural disasters - devasting the environment and adversely effecting communities. These calamities are further exacerbated by the climate crisis, forcing people to become climate refugees. In response, the article introduces the Inga agroforestry model as a sustainable alternative to slash-and-burn agriculture. Developed by the Inga Foundation, this model utilises the tree genus Inga, a nitrogen-fixing tree, to create resilient and productive agroforestry systems. By intercropping basic grains with other cash crops, amongst the Inga trees and other fruit and hardwood trees, farmers can achieve food security and economic diversity. The Inga agroforestry model is also characterised by its minimal input requirements, as it uses no agrochemicals, chemical fertilisers, fossil fuels, heavy equipment, herbicides or pesticides, further enhancing land restoration and climate change mitigation.

Proven to be a regenerative system, Inga agroforestry has been implemented successfully in Honduras, empowering marginalised rural smallholder farmers in a socially and ecologically sustainable manner. Compared to monocrop plots, the model’s economic benefits include increased yields and income generation, which has improved rural livelihoods, including for women and youth, reducing out-migration. The environmental benefits include land restoration, carbon sequestration, and increased biodiversity, improving climate resilience. Despite its proven effectiveness, the widespread adoption of the Inga agroforestry model remains constrained by funding and policy barriers which favour industrial agriculture. The team remains committed, however, to seeing it replicated widely and remains optimistic about the model's potential to transform rural economies. They, therefore, urge for greater support from governments and international institutions.

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