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Rockefeller Foundation Recognizes EcoLogic as an Innovator

Antonio Chipel and Salvador Toc

EcoLogic Field Technician Antonio Chipel and Salvador Toc, an early adopter of alley-cropping.

The Rockefeller Foundation has designated EcoLogic a “Next Century Innovator,” recognizing us as an organization creating new ways to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable people. Almost a thousand organizations and individuals were nominated from around the globe, and only a hundred were singled out for this recognition.

EcoLogic’s way of helping rural farmers transition from slash-and-burn agriculture to a technique known as alley-cropping to grow food was singled out. EcoLogic collaborates with local early adopters and then teaches other farmers on this land. This allows farmers to test the approaches in a familiar environment, and turns more and more of them into local experts who balance immediate consumption needs with long-term stewardship of forest resources.

We first learned about Inga and alley-cropping at the Inga Foundation’s demonstration center, set up by our friend Michael Hands of the University of Cambridge, UK. Watch a video about their work

 Alley-cropping is an agroforestry technique that has farmers plant crops between rows of nitrogen-fixing trees—in this case Inga (Inga edulis). The technique provides a host of benefits including greater crop yields, less labor for the farmers, and more fuel wood as the trees need to be regularly pruned. The environmental advantages are many because the trees prevent soil erosion when there are rains, and improve the soil and moisture retention with their root systems and leaf litter. There is less need for artificial fertilizers and pesticides which also means less costs for the farmers.

To read more about the important advantages to the alley-cropping approach check out the innovation description on the Rockefeller website. The sooner we can expand this approach and help more farmers adopt it, the better for everyone including the natural ecosystems of Mexico and Central America.

We would also like to recognize our colleagues and collaborators at Reforestamos Mexico and Root Capital for also earning the distinction as one of the 100 Innovators selected. Together we will protect tropical ecosystems and empower local communities through sustainable and sensible solutions!