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Micro-garden technologies are receiving increased attention in the context of small scale horticulture in emergency situations. For their simplicity and adaptability they are spreading in urban environments, refugee camps, schools and health centres. With little or no soil and limited water, micro-gardens can rapidly improve the availability of fresh and nutritious vegetables while providing for an attractive and creative occupation requiring minimal physical efforts.
People with no land and no income can only rely on food distribution for their survival. The micro-garden systems can change their lives.
Starting with 1m2 and 1-3 litres of potable water per day, a family can grow a broad range of vegetables including leafy vegetables like: cabbage, lettuce, jute, cut lettuce, amaranth, rosel, basil, as well as root and tuber vegetables like: carrot, potato, red beet, onion, and fruit vegetables like: tomato, hot and sweet pepper, eggplant.
As a first priority, the micro-garden system encourages the families to "save" the little fertile soil and protect it from further erosion and practice "bed culture system".
When no soil is available, the cultivation can be successfully performed with natural substrates elaborated from locally available materials such as peanut shells, coconut fibres, rice hulls, coarse sand, pozzolane, etc. In case the substrate is not available then it is also easy to grow the crops as "floating" directly on a nutrient solution.

A major reason why the micro-gardens are very popular for women is because their cultivation requires less physical effort as compared to conventional growing. In addition the system is highly water use efficient which again reduces to burden of carrying irrigation water but also helps to safe the water which is expensive and scarcely available.

With the micro-gardens the Tsunami affected population can immediately engage and participate in rebuilding their future and harvest every day fresh, safe and highly nutritious vegetables for improving their diet with vitamins, essential micro-nutrients and vegetable proteins. It is suggested that Training and Demonstration Centres be established in camps, schools and health centres, where beneficiaries could be trained with the help of local NGOs if applicable. Families will be provided with a take-home kit in order to continue vegetable production at their homestead once resettled.

 contact: tsunami@fao.org © FAO, 2005