Pictured Above: Nitesh Kumar Jangir, India; Leilua Lino, Samoa; Christopher Nesbitt, Belize; Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Sec Gen of the Commonwealth; Rosette Muhoza, Rwanda; Elizabeth Kperrun, Nigeria and Wayne Neale, St Lucia.
Maya Mountain Research Farm (MMRF) is a Belizean NGO, situate in the Toledo District agroforestry farm of Christopher Nesbitt and his wife Celini Logan Nesbitt. Christopher applied for the newly created Commonwealth Innovation Award, highlighting his work of the last 30 years in agroforestry, food security, land repair, and the last 15 years’ intensive work on carbon sequestration through agroforestry and biochar. MMRF was one of less than 15 projects accepted. Christopher states that “it was an honor and a privilege to be among them”. Also, he would like to thank HRH Prince Harry, and the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, and Bilikisu Ibrahim, who took excellent care of the winners who made it to London. There were over 800 applicants from the 53 nations and 2.4 billion people of the Commonwealth.
Christopher landed in Belize in 1985 and served as a caretaker for a farm from 1986-88. In 1988 he purchased the land that would become MMRF. There was no road or house then, a dory being the only way in, and remains the only access. Christopher took a permaculture design course at a neighbor’s farm, which greatly influenced the direction he took on his property – “an old tired citrus and cattle farm”. He managed The Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) from 1997 until 1994, when he established MMRF.
He states, “We have been focusing on methods of agriculture that draw down carbon, repair some of the 950,000,000 to 1.1 billion acres of degraded agricultural landscapes, much of which are in the lowland humid tropical countries of the Commonwealth, and have worked to create a multistrata agroforestry system that provides food, fuel, fodder, marketable crops, medicinal crops and timber, while replicating the eco-system functions of soil, including soil moisture retention, habitat creation and carbon sequestration. Over the last 30 years, we have developed a way to mimic the process of succession of “wamil”, using analog species which provide a series of yields while also improving soil. People who work with the Commonwealth were aware of what we have been doing.”
Additionally, Christopher is a director of the non-profit Regeneration Belize; he is a popular speaker at their Annual Tropical Agriculture Conference. Thanks for putting Belize in the limelight, Christopher!
See Christopher’s Issue 40 Article Carbon Farming.