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Thanks Mr. Md. Kamrul Islam and Dr. Kuruppacharil for your inputs. There are few changes occurred during recent years on the homestead gardening. BRAC has introduced this concept of homestead gardening in a bit different way. We called it Nutri-garden. Nutri-garden is the yearlong comprehensive package of growing nutrient dense and naturally fortified fruits and vegetables by engaging rural women to enhance diet diversification and improve nutritional status in the household’s. Nutri-garden intervention offers a great potential for alleviating malnutrition and improving household food security and diversity. Nutri-gardens are established in homestead, gher/pond dyke areas and other fallow and unutilized land by which proper utilization of fallow land is being ensured and crop area is being increased. Nutri-gardens are an important source of income for rural households from sales of the garden products. Women are playing a vital role in providing better nutrition for their family by producing their own nutritious foods in Nutri-gardens.
The objectives of Nutri-garden interventions of BRAC are: 1. To improve nutritional status of households through consumption of diversified food. 2. Year round availability of at least five nutrient enriched fruits and vegetables in the households. 3. Enhance household income by engaging rural women and 4. Raising awareness for producing safe food.
Several nutrient enriched fruits and vegetables are being cultivated in Nutri-garden such as Red amaranth, Spinach, Pointed gourd, Okra, Tomato, Brinjal, Aroid, Sweet gourd, Bottle gourd, White gourd, Sponge gourd, Snake gourd, Cucumber, Long yard bean, Country bean, Carrot, Orange flashed sweet potato, Drumstick, Papaya, Guava, Banana etc.
An outcome study was conducted by BRAC about Nutri-garden from which it was found that- 5 to 14 crops was available in each Nutri-garden and about 8 crops was found in 30% Nutri-garden. Annual production is 2,130 kg/Nutri-garden/year and annual income is BDT 39,902/Nutri-garden/year (80 BDT = 1 US$).
A success story on Nutri-garden can be found following the link below: Nutri-gardening: Hosne Ara’s endeavor to success
Farming systems approaches invariably include crops, fisheries and live stocks and their interactive relationship within the households specially in the small and marginal household in the South Asian context. This has the uniqueness in addressing the household food consumption and nutrition. The development and fast tract diffusion of climate smart technologies can address and reduce the household vulnerabilities. We can reduce the livelihood vulnerability in climate vulnerable areas through reducing the sensitivity of any crop, fish or livestock technologies. These practices will also increase the adaptive capacity of the small households. This can be described by the following equation as described by B.M. Simpson (2016):
Livelihood vulnerability = (Exposure × Sensitivity) – Adaptive capacity
I want to bring one particular issue. In the name of women empowerment in agriculture and making gender as cross-cut in every development programme or project are not we actually over burden them through increasing engagement in agricultural activities. In Bangladesh, especially the rural women are solely responsible for household activities, childcare and even many of the post-harvest agricultural activities. We very seldom recognized these and try to increase their participation in agriculture to achieve project or programme goal. Increasing participation does not necessarily mean empowerment. Research or even policies should indicate how we can bring women in the decision making process. Awareness and education might have the answer for sensitizing both men and women on this issue.
In response to my friend Nigel from UK I need to mention that yes seasonality does affect not only the nutrition but also the overall agricultural productivity and thus the food security as a whole. In Bangladesh, the agricultural productivity of an unfavourable rain fed ecosystem (monsoon season) is much lower than the irrigated ecosystem (winter season). The available option of growing vegetables and fruits is much higher in winter than in monsoon season. To tackle this seasonality we may take few indigenous and as well as modern technological approaches. Like using low cost greenhouse techniques to grow vegetables and fruits in hot summer as well as in cold winter season. Likewise, in flooded conditions indigenous techniques of growing vegetables in floating gardens may be a unique example. I would like to copy below a case study on floating gardens published in recent BRAC Annual Report of 2015.
Floating farms that fight climate change
Flooding and water logging are common occurrences in Gopalganj district in central Bangladesh. Parts of the region stay submerged for months on end during the monsoon season, resulting in reduced crop production. People have adopted a new method of cultivation called floating agriculture to overcome this. Plants are grown in the water and derive nutrients from the water instead of soil. Floating agriculture is not only climate-adaptive, but can also lead to sustainable, large-scale crops. Monika Kirtoniya is one of many who started a floating farm on her 33 decimals of land upon after receiving training on floating vegetable cultivation. Aquatic plants like water hyacinth are grown on soil-less rafts on water, providing a platform to sow seedlings in. Plants get nutrition from either composted organics or from the water. Field crops often perish during water logging, but floating farms survive. Monika used to follow traditional rice cultivation methods. The land she cultivated on would stay waterlogged for up to six months every year, leading to an unstable income. Managing three meals a day for her family was often impossible during those months. When waters around her home began to rise again last year, she turned to floating farms. Both Monika and her husband work in her floating farm. She cultivates red amaranth, water spinach, indian spinach and okra, producing 3,900 kg of crop per acre. She makes a net profit of USD 865 (BDT 67,500) per acre. Floating farms have meant not only securing three meals a day, but the freedom of having vegetables all year round.
Bangladesh has achieved considerable progress in agriculture and food security. The country has achieved self-sufficiency in its staple food, rice. There is also surplus production of table potato and many vegetables in the peak growing season. Bangladesh also stood fourth in the world in producing inland fish through pond aquaculture. In spite these achievements, the country is well behind in achieving the major nutritional indicator especially for the children. The food safety and hygiene is also contribute in human nutrition. In order to ensure contaminant free and food safety for the people, the Government has started implementing the ‘Food Safety Act, 2013’ from the 1st of February, 2015. Eventually, ‘Bangladesh Food Safety Authority’ was activated on the 2nd February, 2015. Along with the inception of the implementation of the ‘Food Safety Act, 2013’, the Government has also taken steps to raise people’s awareness of food safety and about the fundamental concepts of the law. The awareness of the women in the household is the key since the overall food preparation is done by them in Bangladesh.
Recently BRAC Agriculture Programme has taken initiative to promote Nutri-garden model through organic homestead fruits and vegetables cultivation in two most climate vulnerable regions of Bangladesh. Programme participants are being trained on year round production of fruits and vegetables cultivation. Massive campaign has taken on awareness building in producing safe food and restricting the use of chemicals. We envisage that the year round vegetables and fruits cultivation in homesteads will enhance diet diversification and improve nutritional status in household’s level. Only the female participants are being engaged on Nutri-gardening. 13500 Nutri-garden will be established where 324000 participants will be trained on year round production of fruits and vegetables aiming to improve nutritional status of the women and children by the year 2020 in our two project regions.
We all know that food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth. Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. The primitive method of securing food was dominated by men. But when agriculture came to action in securing food the role of women were obvious. We all know that the women is the pioneer of agriculture. But in country like Bangladesh in a men dominating households and societies these role seldom recognized. Earlier women were more engaged on post harvest activities but recently they are very much engaged in on farm activities like seeding/transplanting, intercultural operations and harvesting. Very often women engagement in agriculture is treated as household work and thus gets less recognition. Even in the paid labour there exists huge wage differences between men and women. Since nutrition cannot be achieved without agriculture, the role and contribution of women in agriculture must be evaluated. This lead in changing the societal norms and traditions.