|Abstracts on Sustainable Agriculture (GTZ, 1992, 423 p.)|
|Abstracts on homegardens|
AVRDC Technical Bulletin No. 19; Workshop Report, Bangkok, Thailand, Mai 1991; price developing countries USD 3.50, elsewhere USD 5.00
Food production near human settlements has been a major food security and survival strategy, particularly in the developing world. Since household gardens have been around almost since the beginning of agriculture, they have been taken for granted and their benefits sometimes go unnoticed.
At AVRDC the household garden concept is receiving renewed attention because of its considerable potential as a development tool. Such food gardens contribute substantially to the nutritional and economic status of the poor.
The benefits and advantages of household garden projects as well as the constraints and implementation strategies were among the issues discussed in a 3-day workshop organized by AVRDC, the Users Perspective with Agricultural and Rural Development (UPWARD) and the International
Development Research Centre (IDRC) for practioners in Asia and elsewhere on 12-15 May in Bangkok.
Participants came from Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA.
The participants discussed the constraints and factors that have contributed to the success and failure of particular garden projects.
Too often, homestead or underutilized marginal land is the only resource available to the landless and near-landless groups and urban slum dwellers. Intensive gardening can turn this space into a productive source of food and economic security. The technology requires little capital investment and risk.
Household gardens are efficient users of soil, water, sunlight and household wastes, and therefore present an ecologically sound land management system. As a multiple cropping system, they prevent depletion of soil nutrients and represent repositories of diverse plant genetic resources. They also do not use toxic chemicals in contrast to field-based agriculture.
Household gardens are also an efficient way of using limited resources such as time, energy, money and land among the low-income groups. They offer women, who are usually the providers of family meals, with an important means of earning income without overtly challenging cultural and social restrictions on their activities. In addition, other family members such as the children and the elderly can provide labor.
One of the glaring reasons identified by the participants for the failure of garden projects was the lack of a long-term commitment of development and funding agencies and project personnel. This can be attributed to the perception that household food production is easy to promote, which is hardly the case.
Reaching the poorest segments of the population is actually more difficult than getting through to the large-scale commercially-oriented farmers due to psychological, educational, social, motivational and behavioral barriers.
Promoting household food production requires qualified and committed project personnel who understand the local situation. Furthermore, there is a need to develop technologies that are compatible with household needs and resources.
To ensure the long-term success of this development intervention, integrated support for family gardens within the existing national agricultural development framework must be promoted.
A summary of the recommendations of the participants for successful implementation of garden projects follows below:
- Build upon user needs from the beginning of the project.
- Use secondary information and cost-effective appraisal techniques to assess the limiting constraints in the project.
- Formulate clear and achievable objectives.
- Use already available potential solutions to constraints faced in household production.
- Offer complete technology packages to promote household gardens since marginal households are selective and adaptive in their adoption and use of recommended practices and technologies.
- Emphasize locally-adapted species, but not to the complete exclusion of commercially exotic species.
- Direct training at users, through community-based garden promoters and the judicious siting of demonstration plots.
- Employ social marketing techniques to build up motivation and provide nutrition education.
- Exercise caution in evaluating the difficult-to-assess social benefits of garden projects.
- Motivate project participants to take up household production for its own intrinsic value rather than for free inputs which distort incentives and affect the sustainability of results.
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Developing countries, Asia, Africa, Latin America, strategic plan, vegetables, economic value, agroecological zones, production systems, research, training, technology, transfer, monitoring, international cooperation