The interesting thing about tropical farming is not land poverty. It’s not soil poverty. The soil is actually okay. The problem with sustainability in tropical areas is input because farmers, by and large, are poor. They don’t have access to the capital needed for sustainable input. Not surprisingly they are not able to produce the large yields that American and European farmers produce on autopilot.
So, the key here is to create a farming system that works with how the tropical elements currently work together. In other words, instead of imposing something new on the soil or on the land, you basically work with what’s there. We work with the current system and try to make it work for us instead of against us. That is the key to sustainable tropical farming.
From all our experiments and research, the number one best way to achieve this is back-to-Eden farming. You basically chop up small or thin tree branches, strip off the leaves and use the leaves as animal feed. The thicker branches, you can then turn into charcoal using mud, and this makes for great instant cash for your family.
The real action involves processing the other branches. You chop them up into small pieces, and you distribute them evenly on the ground. Under that layer is some manure or some sort of biological fertilizer. This is all you need because the mulch, as long as you keep replenishing it and layering it with manure, acts both as a protective layer for the plants you’re growing but also as a slow-release fertilizer. As Mother Nature breaks down the outer layer of this field, it makes the soil fatter and fatter. Funny how that works, right?
The best part to this is if you plant trees, you can create a self-sustaining system where you can prune the trees for firewood and branches for new mulch. You create a closed system and you actually can make quite a bit of sustainable living turning lot of the trees into charcoal without killing the trees. So, you can create a system that produces instant cash as well as crops. It really is amazing, and this is the key to sustainable tropical farming.
Another key aspect of sustainable farming involves water management. What’s so awesome about the permaculture system described above is the mulch does it all. You read that right. The mulch does water storage and management. How? Well, when it rains, the mulch absorbs moisture and if there is too much water, it displaces the water. It prevents water from piling up too much in one place. When it gets dry, the mulch retains water. In fact, there are many people using the back to eden form of permaculture in desert like conditions in Southern California. They are able to keep their plants green even though it is scorching out. That’s how powerful this water management system is.
When it comes to fertilization, permaculture really pushes farmers to work with animals. The most basic involves chickens and their eggs. Not only do chickens in the backyard produce daily eggs, they also produce lots of manure. Properly treat these and you have yourself a nice free supply of fertilizer. Indeed, you should build a chicken tractor where you move troops of chickens across your permaculture farm by simply lifting the chickens’ coop on wheels and letting the birds march to their new spot. Rotate across your spread and you give free food to your birds while fertilizing the soil.