Meet a Honduran slash and burn farmer and listen to him talk about how dense the forest used to be.
Subsistence farming accounts for about half of the rainforest destruction; it releases more carbon into the atmosphere than all transport. Meet Mike Hands, who claims to have a solution to slash and burn.
The Plan (01:41)
Hands spent 25 years trying to share his alternative methods, without much success. He decides to go to Honduras to persuade farmers to try his methods.
Aladino Cabrera (02:38)
Listen to a Honduran farmer explain why he must slash and burn while he works.
Slash and Burn Farming (01:48)
Hands explains the problem with slash and burn and the difficulties he has faced in talking to slash and burn farmers.
Smaller Yield (02:05)
View footage of men bagging crops while Cabrera speaks about the difficulties farmers face in reaching the yields they have in the past.
Slash and burn soil yields successful crops for one year only. Hands explains how he came to the conclusion that phosphorus levels in the soil is key.
Alley Cropping (04:25)
Hands explains his alternative to slash and burn farming. View footage of the method in action at a large farm in Honduras.
Inga Tree (02:01)
Botanist Terry Pennington explains that the Inga tree creates a rainforest soil within 2-3 years. He also shares his support for Hands' alley cropping method.
Supply and Demand (02:11)
If farmers have a successful year, the buyer pays less per pound. Cabrera explains that farmers are forced to take the lower rates in order to provide basic necessities for their family.
Hands pitches his project and asks for help with funds in order to introduce the method to farmers. Meet Faustino Reyes, a farmer currently alley cropping.
International Attention (02:12)
Oswaldo Munguia shares his goal of reducing deforestation and regrowing the forests. He arranged for Hands to meet with the Honduran government, asking them to sent the project to the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Demo Farm (03:02)
Reyes invites local farmers to see the alley cropping process in action. View footage of his demonstrations and conversations with other farmers.
Lower Class (03:12)
View footage of Cabrera relaxing at home and sharing his new knowledge about alley cropping. He fixes his car and talks about his place in society.
Hands meets again with Honduran government officials, and they decide to send him to the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Cabrera appears to be considering alley cropping, so Reyes visits him to explain how he could get started.
Rallying the Troops (03:14)
Cabrera shares his new knowledge of alley cropping with his friends and family. Cabrera takes them to Reyes' farm to convince them to join him in the new venture.
Kick Starting (02:18)
Hands expresses frustration over lack of funds. The farmers are ready to begin, but there are not enough Inga seeds for them to get started.
The farmers are able to acquire some Inga seeds and begin the planting process.
Political Strife (03:32)
Honduras erupts in political turmoil and Hands learns that there will be no Honduran delegation to spread the word of alley cropping.
No Luck (01:40)
Cabrera needs a good crop to fund his venture into alley cropping, but it does not come through.
Final Burn (01:55)
Hands catches up with Cabrera after some time has passed. Cabrera is burning his land in order to plant the Inga.
Hands reflects on his struggle to create change in the Honduran farming practices.
Months later, Hands returns to Honduras to visit Cabrera. Reyes commends Cabrera on his progress.
Cabrera and family prepare for an eighteenth birthday celebration. Graphic Images of pig slaughter.
DOLE controls the majority of prime farmland in Honduras. Hands meets with the DOLE manager to share his organic growing practices.
Up and Running (01:55)
Cabrera takes his family to see the Inga trees.
This film covers four years and still no larger forces had taken notice of alley cropping. In February 2011, Hands is invited to speak at the United Nations.
Credits: Up in Smoke: Can Slash-and-Burn Agriculture Be Replaced? (02:03)
Credits: Up in Smoke: Can Slash-and-Burn Agriculture Be Replaced?
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