Up in Smoke

"At the crossroads of diminishing food security and deforestation lies the practice of slash and burn agriculture." - Mike Hands


Slash and burn agriculture is one of our biggest environmental challenges.
It produces more CO2 than all air and road travel combined. It causes mass deforestation, destroys precious animal habitats and results in an unstable food source for subsistence farmers and their families.

The Project

Convincing farmers who rely entirely on their crops to feed their family, to change their farming methods is not easy. Even if the change would enable the farmers to grow organic cash crops, more diverse produce and secure higher yields. Even if the new method means they can stop burning down protected rainforest.

In La Ceiba, Honduras, slash and burn agriculture is rampant. To stop farmers burning rainforest and adopt more sustainable farming methods, we are using the film Up In Smoke to engage communities with the issue.

The screening and workshop events are held in remote regions, and local farmers are provided with vital access to seedlings, seeds and expert long term guidance. Not only can the farmers now stop burning, but they can also learn how to grow new organic cash crops and distribute their product. Our funding also ensures that female farmers and heads of households have the support they need to convert to sustainable methods and harness their economic potential.


Our Partners

The Inga Foundation’s projects are based upon the findings of long-term studies run by Inga’s founder Mike Hands for Cambridge University into subsistence slash-and-burn farming.

The studies demonstrated that phosphorus is the key limiting nutrient in slash and burn systems. Inga alley cropping works sustainably because it retains and recycles the phosphorus that it inherits from the original burned forest ecosystem. The Inga system provides soil protection, weed control and a nutrient regime that is far superior to those provided by the conventional alley cropping species.


The Film

Slash and burn is practiced by over 500 million farmers worldwide and emits over one billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year. The documentary Up In Smoke features scientist Mike Hands, who has devised a revolutionary alternative called alley cropping, which not only allows subsistence farmers to increase their crop yields and grow organic, but also replenishes exhausted soils and frees up land for reforestation. But are the big funders ready to listen and will local farmers risk their livelihood on the promise of an Englishman?


A film by: Director: Adam Wakeling

"The tropical equivalent of turning water into wine."

- The Independent