Plant nutrient-fixing trees to improve soil health and food security

Foresting a farm using Inga edulis – a nitrogen-fixing tree –is a new, innovative farming technique which could transform the way land is cultivated for food and cash crops in southern Belize. The Inga trees planted in rows help improve soil health, creates a thick-blanket of mulch on the ground and reduce the need to use herbicides. This shift from traditional slash-and-burn farming system allows small scale farmers to grow corn, beans, vegetable and spices on a piece of land year after year for up to 20 years.

Our goal over the next year is to train 2 farmers, establish 2 one-acre farm plots and to share information widely on this climate smart farming practice.

After 2 years of establishing the inga alley cropping plot, farmers prune inga trees at breast height to prepare the land for planting corn. | Map: Stephanie Smith

Our outreach to communities includes:

  • Utilize 3 years of Inga alley cropping expertise to train farmers
  • Provide materials such as seeds, nursery bags and young plants
  • Attend events, radio and television shows to share information on the benefits of this farming technique.

So far 16 plots have been established in the Maya Golden Landscape. Farmers are becoming more receptive of this new farming system.

Elizabeth Dorgay, Maximiliano Caal, Oscar Requena and Sayuri Tzul sharing information on Inga alley cropping on a radio talk show. | Map: Ya’axché

Farmer Profiles

We have exceptional farmers who are leading the establishment of Inga Alley Cropping within the Maya Golden Landscape of southern Belize. Below are a few of the farmers who want to expand their farms.

Meet a few of our farmers:

Farmer Mateo holding leaves in Inga alley cropping plot
Mateo Ack

Mateo has taken the lead in creating an inga plot at Medina Bank. He envisions harvesting good food, corn, beans, tomatoes and even pineapples within this innovative farming system.

Bartolo Teul

Bartolo, who lives in Big Falls, has extensive knowledge of the inga alley cropping system. He wants to expand his 1 acre inga plot to areas around his farm where other farmers frequent so that they can see how it works.

Mauricio Ical

Mauricio has been leading by example in his community of Medina Bank by implementing what he learns at Yaáxché. He already has corn planted in the alley while his inga trees mature.