Thursday, 28 May 2015

Helping to Spread a Beautiful System

Helping to Spread a Beautiful System

Many poor farmers in tropical rainforest countries today are trapped in cycles of poverty with very little hope of improving the livelihoods for themselves and their families. The only system of farming that they know is called slash and burn agriculture, but this method is no longer environmentally viable. The farmers themselves know that it is destroying the vital natural resource, namely the soil, that they rely on to provide them with decent harvests. It is also destroying more and more  of the rainforests, seriously harming biodiversity and releasing enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This adds to the phenomena of climate change, making the poor farmers more susceptible to adverse and extreme weather conditions. Yet for most slash and burn farmers around the world, there seems to be no choice. Their harvests may get worse year on year, but it is the only way they know how to feed their families, and the only other possible alternative seems to be to desert the land and go and join the expanding populations of the polluted, desperate shanty towns.

Yet there is an alternative, if they only knew about it. An agricultural technique called Inga Alley Cropping can help preserve the vital structure and fertility of the soil, and help prevent the destruction of countless areas of rainforest. By sowing their crops between rows of particular species of Inga tree, which are pruned regularly to create a mulch, not only is erosion significantly reduced but the vital elements of nitrogen and phosphorous are retained within the soil. This means that poor farmers can continue farming on the same plot for year after year without having to move and burn more rainforest every two or three years, as slash and burn farming currently obliges them to do.

                                                       Inga Alley Cropping                   What slash and burn leads to

Rainforest Saver, a small UK based charity is doing it very best to disseminate information about this technique around all tropical rainforest countries. At present though it is focusing mainly on Honduras and the Cameroons as it is in these two countries, that it has developed good relationships with various partners, who have the same dedication to improve the livelihoods of poor farmers and help save the rainforests. At present, Rainforest Saver has already funded training sessions for teachers and the setting up of 6 Demonstration Inga plots at 6 High Schools in Eastern Honduras, for it is the young farmers of tomorrow, who will be most open to new ideas. This has been carried out by our dedicated partner Dr Valle, who works at CURLA university in La Ceiba, and is part of a recognized government scheme to improve environmental education throughout Honduras. Unfortunately the Honduran government is very poor and so such worthwhile initiatives wouldn’t take place without the support of an overseas charity. Dr Valle would now like to extend this scheme to schools in Western Honduras but to do so needs considerable extra funding to pay for the transportation of seedlings and accommodation for himself, his colleagues and assistant. Rainforest Saver has therefore set up a Crowd Funding Project and very much hopes you will be willing to help support our vital project. If enough young farmers of today are educated in more sustainable agriculture, poor communities that are at present destroying many of the rainforests, could both improve their own livelihoods and become the effective guardians of these crucial eco-systems. By giving knowledge and resources to those that work on the land, we can help transform both their livelihoods and their environment for the better. Our ultimate aim for this crowd funding project is to train 140 teachers from 23 schools, and reaching our target will enable us to make a substantial difference to environmental education in this area. Changing a whole system of agriculture is not an easy task, but you can help seed this transformation in Western Honduras, as we are already doing with considerable promise near the North coast of Honduras.

                                                  Our partner Dr. Guillermo Valle, teaching students in an Inga alley

We are offering a variety of prizes to encourage you to open your heart and wallet. Yet whether you buy some cards, calendar or a T shirt, get your children’s faces painted as rainforest animals, commission a poem or request a rainforest tale, I hope your main reward will be to keep an eye on the Rainforest Saver web site and see the project that you helped fund come to fruition. So please click on   and help young Honduran farmers learn how to make a more sustainable and productive living from their land and enable them to help save the rainforests.    

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