Diversifying Inga Systems

Diversifying tree based grazing systems to create smallholder price premium opportunities for milk production in the Amazonian Arc of Deforestation

Availability of Inga seed currently hinders the expansion of Agroforestry (AF) and Silvopastoral (SPS) systems across Brazil. AF and SPS have proven to be beneficial in restoring soils leading to increases in cattle feed and therefore enhance milk yields.

This project focuses on solving the issue of Inga seed availability, which cannot be stored, by planting community seed orchards as a basis of scaling up Agroforestry (AF) and Silvopastoral (SPS) systems across Mato Grosso State, Brazil.  In addition it will develop 20 family-farm, Inga-based SPS systems as demonstration projects, encouraging 250 families to adopt them as a means of improving livestock feed productivity and to capitalise on rises in milk productivity. Working with our partner institution Instituto Ouro Verde (IOV), our ‘grass roots’ approach (involving smallholders in tree species selection and monitoring) can be scaled up regionally.

Key project outcomes

Scale Inga seed hubs

We will establish 4 Inga seed orchards that act as hubs for the distribution of Inga seed across Mato Grosso state.

Sustainably intensify milk production

We will establish 20 smallholder Inga integrated SPS systems that improve milk yiels and enable premium price opportunities.

Develop resources

We will develop a user-friendly, non-technical booklet of SPS techniques designed with and for local communities.

The proposed seed orchards and AF/SPS field trials also represent large-scale common garden experiments for trees and are resources for tropical ecologists. The common gardens are excellent platforms for characterising the functional ecology of tropical tree species. This can be of great interest to forest ecology researchers, as Inga species span the major axes of tree life history, from short to tall trees, from pioneer to shade-tolerant recruiters, and from poor-soil adapted slow growers to fast growers on rich soils.

The project will also benefit researchers investigating AF and SPS systems for delivery of ecosystem services and poverty alleviation and provide a platform for our partners at the Institute Ouro Verde (IOV) to strengthen their innovative SPS and to share their successful inclusive methods more widely across Brazil.


This project is funded by Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and contributes to the University of Exeter Global Research Translation Awards (GRTA). The project aims to develop and deliver sustainable social and economic development solutions to developing countries.