You wouldn’t have thought it, but rainforest soil itself is pretty rubbish – thin and impoverished. It’s the compost heap of rotting leaves on top that makes the perfect growing conditions for lush canopies.
If you clear away the trees, this precious compost is washed away in a matter of weeks. So growing food in the rainforest presents a real challenge.
You could clear away a new plot each year, a method known as ‘shifting cultivation’, but you would soon run out of rainforest.
Or you could have a very strict rotation plan, but with more mouths to feed, these strict plans might fall by the wayside.
What you really need is a way to restore the compost heap whilst you grow your food. What you need is a miracle called Inga.