Land for Life: Inga Alley Cropping-the Revolutionary Solution to Saving Rainforests, Transforming Lives, and Regenerating Land
Our mission secures food & ends rainforest destruction & slash-and-burn agriculture by replacing it with Inga alley cropping in the tropics.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
The Inga Foundation
Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector
Headquarters location: Country
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Honduras: Las Flores, Cuero and Capapan river catchments
Also, we have trained delegations spreading our work in:
This 1-minute film shows why Inga Alley Cropping represents a revolutionary breakthrough in the fight save the world’s rainforests and provide sustainable food security for subsistence farmers throughout the entire tropics.
Inga's founder and director, Dr. Mike Hands and Chief Field Manager, Mr. Abraham Martinez standing in the successful Inga alleys at the Foundation's demonstration farm.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
300 million+ families in the tropics use slash-and-burn to grow their food. Farmers cut and burn a patch of forest for fertile soil to grow crops, but the harsh climate strips the bare soil of nutrients and crops fail after only two years, forcing farmers to clear new rainforest to survive. Food security is precarious; children—malnourished; livelihoods—endangered; rainforests habitats—destroyed; water sources—contaminated by unstoppable erosion; and billions of tons of carbon—released every year.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
The Inga Foundation’s simple but revolutionary system of Inga alley-cropping is the proven solution to stopping the devastation of tropical rainforests. Its ability to regenerate land dramatically transforms the lives of subsistence farmers by providing food security and organic cash crops as well as significantly sequesters carbon. By the initial demonstration of the planting of Inga alleys, followed by grassroots expansion, and backed by agricultural support over the adoption period of two to three years, this bottom-up approach provides local farmers and their families the means to achieve sustainable, organic agricultural practices and put an end to slash and burn. We invite NGOs and other government farming entities to join us in this critical food security/land restoration movement to scale up. Mike Hands was selected as a climate SOLVER at MIT in June 2017 (1 of 6 in the world competition), & OFIA Grand Prize recipient for Organic Farming Innovation in Nov. 2017.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
Since 2012, the debt-free, bottom-up, low-cost, and scientifically-proven agroforestry model of Inga alley-cropping in Honduras has planted 1.75 million trees, helped over 240 families organically and sustainably grow food and cash crops, sequestered millions of tons of carbon by the anchoring of families to their land and their not moving deeper into the rainforest to slash-and-burn new farming plots, allowed families for the first time to sell cash crops such as pepper, turmeric, pineapple, cacao, vanilla, and protected rainforest and wildlife habitats as families now have “land for life.” About 5000 acres of once-depleted soils are enriched & stabilized by the nitrogen-fixing Inga trees and the protection of the tree’s foliage and leaf mulch when the trees are pruned; trees supply sustainable firewood by the pruned trunks/branches of the Inga tree, which is vital for families; and water sources are protected and erosion stopped as the soil is now stable and does not wash away.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
We are in year 6 of our ten year Honduran Land for Life project with a yearly budget of $200K--with an all-volunteer staff in the US and the UK.
Cuero operation was established w/ Vanderbilt Family Foundation funds originally
managed by the Honduran NGO Fundación Parque Nacional Pico Bonito-FUPNAPI
1. Individual gifts through the website and solicitations are about 50% of our annual income.
2. Grants account for approximately 40% of our support.
3. Corporate contributions are a small part of our funding (about 10%).
4. We have no earned income.
No one else pioneers this type of complete agroforestry system (scientifically-proven, significant carbon sequestration, firewood, mulch, weed control, water source protection, erosion prevention, nitrogen-fixing, low-cost).
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Some NGOs combat deforestation through reforestation, but this does not address the root of problem. Slash & burn is ecologically devastating, yet a way of life for subsistence farmers for generations. Families do not just need trees; they need solutions. Inga alley-cropping is an integrated ecosystem that provides an organic, sustainable, and resilient means for farmers in the tropics to achieve food security. Mike Hands was the first to implement this complete, proven, agroforestry system.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
As a surveyor in Central America the 80s, Mike was horrified to see the devastating impact that slash & burn subsistence agriculture had on rainforests in the world's tropics. While a researcher at the Univ. of Cambridge he found that science could not explain the underlying ecology of the process—nor indicate a solution to the problem of a newly burned site losing fertility in 2-3 years. Breakthroughs in the ecology of soil phosphorus in the laboratory in Cambridge cleared away confusion and contradiction in the literature and opened the way to a promising set of field trials. These upheld the original hypotheses and led to the alternative agricultural system that Inga Foundation is now promoting. Our teams in Cent. Amer. are led by local foresters and agronomists who have extension assistants trained by them on our demonstration farms, & we train delegations from many other countries.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?