Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Mr. Mike Hands

Organization: Inga Foundation
Country: United Kingdom
I am working on:

I am Michael Hands.  Formerly Senior Researcher in the University of Cambridge.  Directed four successive research projects in Central America for the University.  The Ecology of slash-and-burn agriculture in rain forests. 

Now Program Director in Central America for Inga Foundation (IF).  Promoting and extending four Inga-based agroforestry systems (The Inga Model) to subsistence farming families in rain forests.  IF was founded in 2007 to promote the findings of the Cambridge Projects (1988-2002).  Our efforts and resources are concentrated in the buffer zone of the Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras. 

The outcome of the Cambridge Projects was that the only agricultural system emerging from many years’ trial, with any promise of sustainability in this context was Alley-cropping with Inga species (Inga a-c); but with the caveat that the system needs supplementary minerals; especially rock-phosphate.

Inga a-c gives the families food-security in basic grains and a route out of environmental destruction and poverty.  The remaining three agroforestry systems in the model yield cash-crops and valuable timber for the family’s short, medium and long-term well-being. Please see: for more details.

Tropical Rain Forest Ecologist.

Senior Researcher.  University of Cambridge (1988-2022)

Development and field testing of sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn in the world's rain forests.

Founder/Trustee of Inga Foundation.

Program Director.  Land for Life Program.  Inga Foundation.

This member contributed to:

    • Dear Julie,

      I have already submitted Inga Foundation’s Mission Statement for its Land for Life Program in Central America.

       This Program is directly relevant to this present Call for Submissions.

      In brief, IF is extending The Guama (Inga Tree) Model to hundreds of subsistence farming families in the Buffer Zone of the Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras.  The Guama Model livelihood is comprised of four related agroforestry systems using trees of the genus Inga.

      The adoption of the model by the families results in the cessation of slash-and-burn (s-b) and the soil-restoration of hillsides degraded by decades of s-b.  The program is replacing whole swathes of former invasive grassland by a mosaic of agroforest.

      We outline how the combination of mulch derived from Inga foliage, together with supplementry minerals (not fertilzer) has proven itself capable of the restoration of soil fertility and condition as a completely sustainable alternative to slash-and-burn.  With over 450 families implementing the four agroforest systems, in effect, they and we are achieving landscape restoration.  To the best of our knowledge, not one family has reverted to s-b since adopting.  Once the soil has been restored and the agroforest systems become functional we are seeing a widespread restoration of habitat and of the wildlife to whom it is a condition of survival.  This includes a huge diversity of birds; and even Big Cats.

      I was honoured to have a full-scale paper published on the whole Program by the Royal Society Open Science platform in February 2021; and it is this that I want to include in my submission.  I would be further honoured if you were to take a look at and include:

      The search for a sustainable alternative to slash-and-burn agriculture in the World's rain forests: the Guama Model and its implementation | Royal Society Open Science;

       with kind regards

      Mike Hands

      Inga Foundation


    • I am attaching a shortened version of the Inga Foundation’s Mission Statement. This document outlines our Land for Life Program in Central America which is directly relevant to your present call.

      Since 2012, we have introduced and established four agroforestry systems with 450 families in the buffer zone of the Pico Bonito National Park.
      This has restored thousands of hectares of degraded invasive grass/scrub vegetation to a mosaic of agroforest.  Around 4 million trees have been planted and managed; mainly by the families themselves.  With Inga alley-cropping, they achieve complete food-security in basic grains and a transformation in the family economy by cash-crops.  The systems are highly successful and in huge demand.
      Please take a look at :
      With kind regards
      Mike Hands
      Director:  Land for Life Program.  Central America