LSP Working Paper No. 11 LSP Working Paper 11
Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Small Homegarden Plots and Sustainable Livelihoods for the Poor

Robert Mitchell and Tim Hanstad
Rural Development Institute (RDI)
USA

March 2004


Cover photograph by M. Arun

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Livelihood Support Programme (LSP)
An inter-departmental Programe for improving support for enhancing livelihoods of the rural poor.

Table of Contents



This paper was prepared under contract with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The positions and opinions presented are those of the authors alone, and are not intended to represent the views of FAO.

The Livelihood Support Programme

The Livelihood Support Programme (LSP) evolved from the belief that FAO could have a greater impact on reducing poverty and food insecurity, if its wealth of talent and experience were integrated into a more flexible and demand-responsive team approach.

The LSP, which is executed by FAO with funding provided by DfID, works through teams of FAO staff members who are attracted to specific themes being worked on in a sustainable livelihoods context. These cross-departmental and cross-disciplinary teams act to integrate sustainable livelihoods principles in FAO’s work, at headquarters and in the field. These approaches build on experiences within FAO and other development agencies.

The programme is functioning as a testing ground for both team approaches and sustainable livelihoods principles.

Email: lsp@fao.org

Access to natural resources sub-programme

Access by the poor to natural resources (land, forests, water, fisheries, pastures, etc.), is essential for sustainable poverty reduction. The livelihoods of rural people without access, or with very limited access to natural resources are vulnerable because they have difficulty in obtaining food, accumulating other assets, and recuperating after natural or market shocks or misfortunes.

The main goal of this sub-programme is to build stakeholder capacity to improve poor people’s access to natural resources through the application of sustainable livelihood approaches. The sub-programme is working in the following thematic areas:

  1. Sustainable livelihood approaches in the context of access to different natural resources
  2. Access to natural resources and making rights real
  3. Livelihoods and access to natural resources in a rapidly changing world

This paper contributes to the first thematic area by examining ways in which the poor can use small amounts of land to establish homegardens to advance important livelihood objectives. Where land is scarce, access to even small plots can benefit families by improving nutrition, providing a source for additional household income, and enhancing the status of women in the household.


Table of Contents


1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Sustainable livelihoods
1.2 Homegardening in world practice

2. BENEFITS OF HOMEGARDENS

2.1 Plantings and family health
2.2 Animals and family health
2.3 Household income
2.4 Wage security and household status
2.5 Benefits to women
2.6 Environmental benefits

3. FACTORS RELATED TO DEVELOPING PRODUCTIVE HOMEGARDENS FOR THE POOR

3.1 Lack of land
3.2 Lack of water
3.3 Lack of capital
3.4 Cultural barriers
3.5 Lack of information on nutritional benefits of homegardening
3.6 Lack of agricultural extension advice
3.7 Lack of appropriate plants and livestock
3.8 Lack of available labour

4. POLICY AND PROGRAMME CONSIDERATIONS

4.1 Preliminary assessment of general suitability of homegardens
4.2 Access to land
4.3 Access to water
4.4 Access to other inputs

Capital
Know-how and receptivity to gardening
Stocks

5. CONCLUSION

6. REFERENCES