On the 24th and 25th of April Erika Vohman (CEO of the Maya Nut Institute) and Mike Rowley a grad student at the University of Bournemouth gave two great talks at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and its subsidiary, the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst in Sussex. Erika spoke about our Darwin Initiative project with the tropical tree Brosimum alicastrum or Maya Nut which finished last month within the context of focusing sustainable development projects in Central America on women and markets.
It is now three months since we sowed our first seed and most of the seedlings are now 40 cm tall and ready for planting out. Together with Terry Pennington I am planning to travel to Bolivia in a couple of weeks where with Peruvian Jaime Leon we will assist with establishing the first Inga agroforest plot in the Amazon. The only problem is that most of the community members are deep in the forest harvesting Brazil Nuts!
As highlighted in an earlier post the use of Agroforests have not been widely adopted in Latin America. Whilst we don’t know why this is we intend to maximise its chance of success in the Amazon by ensuring that the communities who adopt it are fully engaged and in control of how it is delivered. This we hope will make it more likely to keep it going once our intervention is complete. This approach involves participative monitoring of progress and consultation over where plots are located and what crops are grown as well as the provision of training that will see them masters of the technology and potential teachers to other communities in the region. Continue reading Monitoring our progress
Our recent findings have lead us to develop a protocol which enables the storage of Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) seed for several months. As part of this we asked Wolfgang Stuppy from the Millennium Seed Bank to have a look at the anatomy of the fruit and seed to see whether we could get any insights into why it behaves as it does. As part of this work he came across some very interesting facts about the fruit and seed. Continue reading Maya Nut: not just an ordinary fruit (or nut)
Our recent findings have lead us to develop a protocol which enables the storage of Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) seed for several months. Since September 2012 Anaité López (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, Guatemala), Tim Marks (Millennium Seed Bank) and Wolfgang Stuppy (The Millennium Seed Bank) have been working at the Millennium Seed Bank to develop a long-term storage protocol for the seed of the Maya Nut tree (Brosimum alicastrum). Maya Nut is a significant famine food for the rural poor in northern Central America but at the moment it is not possible to store the seed for more than a couple of weeks. Previous posts have highlighted the observation that this seed does not survive for long in the wild and this has been believed to be a consequence of the seed’s very thin papery coat which leaves it vulnerable to desiccation and fungal attack . Continue reading Maya Nut: developing a storage protocol for a Central American famine food
Secondary forests are those that grow back in places that have been deforested. They are forests composed of species often known as ‘pioneer’ or ‘secondary’ that are adapted to colonizing disturbed sites and so very different from those that composed the original forest before they were cut down. I have been interested in secondary forests for many years, beginning with my PhD in forest fragments in the Amazon and later working in the secondary forests that dominate Belize and then again in the shade-coffee farms of El Salvador. I find these forests fascinating for several reasons: firstly they are growing rapidly in importance due to extensive deforestation and yet remain poorly studied, secondly they contain species that are often important sources of fuel and materials for local people, and thirdly they contain species that are often able to establish themselves on the incredibly poor soils found in much of the Tropics without recourse to the rich leaf-litter or root-mat layers that enable the original forest to survive, and so are very interesting in their own right. Continue reading Secondary forest on bauxite in Brazil
It is over two months since we planted our first seeds and after a good start our seedlings are thriving despite the unwanted attention of crickets. Some of the seedlings are now 35 cm tall and will be ready to plant out within a few weeks.
Agroforests were first promoted in the 1980’s but have never taken off in Latin America despite substantial investment through the World Agroforestry Centre. We don’t know why this is the case: whether too much burden of risk was placed on poor farmers, whether there was not enough engagement with farmers or whether the investment just never made it to the ground. To try and avoid the same fate we aim to Continue reading Our strategy for delivering Inga agroforests
A member of the community of San José inspecting the germinating seedlings that he helped plant and has been tending. They took two weeks to get this big, about 15 cm. Once they are 40 cm tall, they will be planted out in rows four metres apart where over the course of a year they will develop into small trees and start to enrich the soil and sustain agriculture. Well that’s the plan at least.