Home Gardens in Nepal

Home Gardens in Nepal

Home Gardens in Nepal

135 Pages ·2007·1.4 MB ·English

Home Gardens in Nepal


Home Gardens in Nepal








6-7 August 2004, Pokhara, Nepal








Resham Gautam, Bhuwon Sthapit and Pratap Shrestha, Editors























Citation:



Gautam, R, BR Sthapit and PK Shrestha (eds.) 2006. Home Gardens in Nepal: Proceeding


of a workshop on "Enhancing the contribution of home garden to on-farm management of


plant genetic resources and to improve the livelihoods of Nepalese farmers: Lessons learned


and policy implications", 6-7 August 2004, Pokhara, Nepal. LI-BIRD, Bioversity International


and SDC.




Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD)


PO Box 324


Pokhara


Nepal




Bioversity International


Via dei Tre Denari 472/a


00057 Maccarese (Fiumicino), Rome


Italy




Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)


Coordination Office


PO Box 113


Kathmandu


Nepal




























ii


Table of Contents



Chapter I: Status of homegardens in Nepal



The value of Home Gardens to small farmers (Bhuwon Sthapit, Resham Gautam and Pablo


Eyzaguirre)………………………………………………………………………………………..8



Home Garden’s Contribution to Livelihoods of Nepalese Farmers (Ram P. Pulami and Deepak


Poudel)……………………………………………………………………………………………..18



Homestead Food Production Program in Central and Far-Western Nepal Increases Food and Nutrition


Security: An Overview of Program Achievements (Aminuzzaman Talukder, Gopi Sapkota, Sharmila


Shrestha, Saskia de Pee, Martin W Bloem)………………………………………………….….27



Home Gardens: An Opportunity to Minimize Pressure on Slash and Burn System and Option for


Improving Dietary Diversity on Chepang Households (Bimal R Regmi, Kamal P. Aryal, Bir B.


Tamang and Pratap K. Shrestha)……………………………………………………..….. ……..35



Home gardening as a household nutrient garden (Krishna G.C)……………………………..48



Farmer's experience in home garden improvement (Surya Adhikari)……………………….53



Chapter II: Understanding diversity of homegarden



Status of Home Gardens of Nepal: Findings of Baseline Survey Conducted in Four Sites of Home


Garden Project (Resham Gautam, Rojee Suwal and Pratap K.


Shrestha)……………………………………………………………………………………………..54


Does Shannon-Weaver Index Explain the Species Diversity in Home Gardens? (Sharmila


Sunwar)……………………………………………………………………………………………….66



Staus and composition of Plant Genetic Diversity in Nepalese Home Gardens (Abishkar Subedi, Rojee


Suwal, Resham Gautam, Sharmila Sunwar, Pratap K. Shrestha)……..………………………72



The Role of Gender in the Home Garden Management and Benefit-Sharing from Home Gardens in


Different Productction System of Nepal (Anu Adhikari, Deepa Singh, Rojee Suwal, Pratap K.


Shrestha and Resham Gautam………………………………………….…………………………..84



Assessment of Dietary Diversity: A Basis for Promoting Plant Genetic Species in Home Gardens


(Resham Gautam, Rojee Suwal and B.R. Sthapit)………………………………………………...99



Chapter III: Enabling and empowering homegarden farmers



Enabling and Empowering the community through Collective Learning Process: Lessons Learnt from


Farmers’ Traveling and Learning Workshop (Rojee Suwal, Resham Gautam and B.R.


Sthapit)…………………………………………………………………………………………………105



Policy Supportive Issues in Home Gardening with Respect to Agricultural Bio-diversity and


Improving Rural Livelihood (Bharat Upadhyay) ………………………………………………..113



Mainstreaming findings of home garden project for on-farm biodiversity management and improving


livelihoods: Policy and programme implications (Pratap K Shrestha, Resham Gautam and Bhuwon


Sthapit)……………………………………………………………………………………………….…119



Annexes


A: Summary of the Meeting…………………………………………………….……………126


B: Presentation of Plan Nepal……………………………………………………………….. 130


C: List of authors ………………………………………………………………..……………132


iii Foreword



Pablo B. Eyzaguirre


Senior scientist, Diversity for Livelihoods Programme


Bioversity International, Rome



This book on Nepalese home gardens brings together new research findings and


perspectives to show us how home gardens contribute to the development, nutrition, and


well being of rural households. The extensive literature on home gardens has addressed the


various aspects of food security, nutrition, income, gender, biodiversity and ecosystem


services that characterise home garden systems. The authors of this volume have gone


further than simply enumerating the attributes of home gardens; they have shown how home


gardens can be supported and mobilized as a development intervention that contributes to


empowering rural households by generating income and improved nutrition in ways that are


embedded in local cultures and traditions.



One of the analytical contributions the authors make is to reveal the importance of the


traditional multi-story, multi-purpose home garden that is rich in biodiversity as a crucial


asset for livelihood and health. While terms like kitchen garden have been used by


development agencies in order to emphasise the food security and income aspects,


especially for women, the other health, nutrition, and ecological benefits to households may


have been undervalued. This book has established a clear link between home garden


biodiversity and the dietary diversity that underpins good nutrition and health. Working with


nutrition programmes and development agencies from government and non-government


agencies, the authors have been able to document these linkages and contributions to


incomes, food security, nutrition and health in practice. Finally, if not belatedly, we are


reaching a global consensus that economic development of the rural poor must be part of a


process of empowerment based on control over resources, governance and support for local


institutions the poor can manage. For the authors of this book, home gardens are essential


biological assets under the control of rural households, managed by rules that are


embedded in the culture and customs that lie at the heart of community cohesion and


identity. The great achievement of this book is that it demonstrates how development based


around the traditional Nepali home garden systems fosters community empowerment and


well being.



The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute is grateful to have been part of the


research partnerships that produced this work. The support and motivation provided by the


Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) in Nepal enabled us to build innovative partnerships


among LIBIRD, the National Agricultural Research Council and Department of Agriculture,


National Nutrition Programme of Nepal, Plan Nepal, Care Nepal and leading global actors in


health and nutrition such as Helen Keller International. We hope that this work in Nepal can


serve as model to further community-based biodiversity management for food security,


nutrition and health.


iv Acknowledgements



The publication is a product of the LI-BIRD implemented project entitled “Enhancing the


contribution of home gardens to on-farm management of plant genetic resources and to


improve the livelihoods of Nepalese”. The project is coordinated globally by the IPGRI and


financial contribution is made by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


We gratefully acknowledge the support provided by LI-BIRD, IPGRI and SDC to the project.



We are grateful to Dr. Pablo Eyzaguirre, global coordinator to the home garden project for


his persistent encouragement and support provided to the project. We are thankful to the


professional experts especially Dr. Timothy Jones, McGill University, Canada, Dr. RB Rana,


Research Officer, International and Rural Development Department (IRDD), The University


of Reading UK, contributing authors, field staff of the project and the collaborating farmers


and farming community for their contribution and participation at the various stages of the


project. We wish to thank national project partners' viz. National Agricultural Research


Council, Department of Agriculture, National Food Nutrition Programme of Department of


Food Technology and Quality Control, Plan Nepal, Care Nepal and Helen Keller


International for their effective collaboration with the project.



Finally, we are thankful to Ms Smreety Dewan of Bioversity InternationaI-APO, Nepal and


Mr. Shashish Maharjan for technical support provided and Ms Rachhya Shah, Ms Sita Tiwari


and Ms Muna Udas of LI-BIRD for their contribution in word processing, formatting, layout


and publication management of the proceedings.


v Acronyms



AEZ Agri-Ecological Zones


ANOVA Analysis of Variance


BLM Broad Leaf Mustard


CBS Central Bureau of Statistics


DADO District Agriculture Development Office/Officer


DDC District Development Committee


DEPROSC Development Project Service Center


DFID Department For International Development of UK


DLSO District Livestock Services Office/Officer


DoA Department of Agriculture


DOS Disk Operating System


FFS Farmers’ Field School


FTLW Farmers’ Traveling and Learning Workshop


H’ Shannon-Weaver Index


HARP Hill Agricultural Research Project


HG Home Garden


HGRC Home Garden Research Committee


HH House Hold


HKI Helen Keller International


IAAS Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science


ICIMOD International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development


IDE International Development Enterprises


IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development


IGA Income Gnerating Activities


IK Indigenous Knowledge


INGO International Non-Governmental Organisation


J Evenness Index


KDS Kami, Damai and Sarki (ethnic group)


Kg Kilogram


KSLUB Kerala State Land Use Board of India


LI-BIRD Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development


MV Modern Varieties


NAF Nepal Agroforestry Foundation


NARC Nepal Agricultural Research Council


NEST Nucleus for Empowerment through Skill Transfer


vi NGO Non-Governmental Organisation


NNP National Nutrition Programme


NNSWA Nepal National Social Welfare Association


NOVIB Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation


NRCS Nepal Red Cross Society


NRs Nepalese Rupees


PRA Participatory Rural Appraisal


RRN Rural Reconstruction Nepal


SALT Sloping Agricultural Land Technology


SDC Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation


SOLVE Society of Local Volunteers’ Effort


SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciencees


Sq.m Square meter/meter square


SWI Shanon-Weaver Index


TOLI Team Organising for Local Initiatives


UBINIG Policy Research for Development Alternatives (in Bengali)


VDC Village Development Committee


Vit Vitamin


VMN Village Model Nursery


VMNPF Village Model Nursery and Poultry Farms


WTO World Trade Organisation


λ Simpson Index


vii The Value of Home Gardens to Small farmers



Bhuwon Sthapit, Resham Gautam and Pablo Eyzaguirre



ABSTRACT



The home garden is a traditional component of the rural ecosystem that has been practiced


for a long time by farmers. Home gardens are often overlooked as an important source of


food and nutrition at national level. For subsistence and poor farmers, crop varieties and


cultivars adapted to particular micro-niches around homesteads are crucial and accessible


resources available to provide a secure livelihood. The purpose of this paper is to review the


value of home gardens that contribute to not only food and nutrition but also a wide range of


social, economic and environmental benefits to people. The paper also describes the goods


and services provided by agricultural biodiversity in home gardens that interface between the


natural ecosystem, orchards and crop fields. The paper suggests that the home garden


could be an entry point to empower the community to manage on-farm agricultural


biodiversity while promoting dietary diversity for healthier families and ecosystems.



Key words: Home gardens, kitchen garden, ecosystem, value, dietary diversity, nutrition



DEFINITION



A home garden is a micro-environment composed of a multi-species (annual to perennial,


root crops to climbers etc), multi-storied and multi-purpose garden situated close to the


homestead (Quat, NX, 1996; Watson and Eyzaguirre, 2002; Hodgkin, 2002). A home garden


refers to the traditional land use system around a homestead, where several species of


plants are grown and maintained by the household members and their products are primarily


intended for the family consumption. Several terms have been used to describe these


garden production systems, such as “homestead garden, backyard garden, kitchen garden,


agro forestry, mixed garden, garden culture, etc” (Helen Keller International, 2001; Mictchell


and Hanstad, 2004). The term “home garden” is preferred because it stresses the close


relationship between the garden and the social group residing at home. The home garden


provides a bridge between the social and biological, linking cultivated species and natural


ecosystems, combining, and conserving species diversity and genetic diversity (Eyzaguirre


and Linares, 2004). The importance of home gardens is evident across countries and


societies. Different cultures and customs have different names for this homestead production


system, for example, Conuco in Cuba and Venezuela (Castineiras et al., 2000; Mulas et al.,


2004), Vuon nha in Vietnam (Trinh et al., 2003), Pekarangan in Indonesia (Abdoellah et al.,


2003). Those millions of households throughout the world that keep their biodiversity close at


hand, that use it daily for multiple purposes, that imbue it with cultural and spiritual value, are


providing a lesson to all humanity on the importance and value of biodiversity. For this


reason alone, Eyzaguirre and Linares (2004) voiced that home gardens are to be celebrated,


supported and conserved.



The Nepalese context



The home garden, literally known in Nepali as Ghar Bagaincha, refers to the traditional land


use system around a homestead, where several species of plants are grown and maintained


by household members and their products are primarily intended for the family consumption


Figure 1, (Shrestha et al., 2002). The term “home garden” is often considered synonymous


to the kitchen garden. However, they differ in terms of function, size, diversity, composition


and features (Table 1). In Nepal, 72% of households have home gardens of an area 2-11%


of the total land holdings (Gautam et al., 2004). Because of their small size, the government


has never identified home gardens as an important unit of food production and it thereby


8 remains neglected from research and development. Traditionally home gardens are an


important source of quality food and nutrition for the rural poor and, therefore, are important


contributors to the food security and livelihoods of farming communities in Nepal. They are


typically cultivated with a mixture of annual and perennial plants that can be harvested on a


daily or seasonal basis. Biodiversity that has an immediate value is maintained in home


gardens as women and children have easy access to preferred food, and for this reason


alone we should promote home gardens as a key element for a healthy way of life.



Home gardens, with their intensive and multiple uses, provide a safety net for households


when food is scarce. These gardens are not only important sources of food, fodder, fuel,


medicines, spices, herbs, flowers, construction materials and income in many countries, they


are also important for the in situ conservation of a wide range of unique genetic resources


for food and agriculture (Subedi et al., 2004). Many uncultivated, as well as neglected and


underutilised species could make an important contribution to the dietary diversity of local


communities (Gautam et al., 2004). Nepalese home gardens are dynamic in their evolution,


composition and uses. Their structure, functions, and both inter- and intra-specific genetic


diversity, have been influenced by changes in socioeconomic circumstances and the cultural


values of users of these gardens. Furthermore, farmers often use home gardens as a site for


the experimentation, introduction and domestication of plants (Shrestha et al., 2002;


Eyzaguirre and Linares, 2004). Typically, home gardens are valued for the following specific


uses (Shrestha et al., 2002):


• Food security, nutrition and a cash income


• Fodder, firewood and timber


• Spices, herbs and medicinal plants


• Green manures and pesticide crops


• Cultural and religious uses


Home gardens also constitute a valuable part of the in situ conservation method, but their


importance for genetic resources conservation is still not widely recognized. Home gardens


are common in many rural areas of Nepal. They usually have a well defined structure with


fodder and fruit trees predominant at the periphery of homestead. Moving inwards, the


canopy is progressively reduced by planting vegetable and arable crops. Gautam et al.,


(2005) reported that there are many key species that are found only in home garden and


they are interconnected by informal germplasm exchanges.



Reasons for the rich diversity of species in home gardens



Home gardens, one of the oldest forms of managed land-use systems, are considered to be


the richest in species diversity per unit area. Several landraces and cultivars, and rare and


endangered species have been preserved in the home gardens (Watson and Eyzaguirre,


2002; Kumar and Nair, 2004). However, species richness of home gardens within a region is


influenced by homestead size, structure, climatic conditions, market and socio cultural


forces.


In the wetter parts of the middle hill areas of Nepal (e.g. Illam), more than 75% of home


gardens have 21 to 50 diverse species per household, whereas the drier conditions of Gulmi


nurture 11-40 species (Gautam et al., 2004)1. In Nepalese home gardens, richness of home



1 A project entitled “enhancing the contribution of home gardens to on-farm management of plant genetic


resources and to improve the livelihoods of Nepalese farmers” is being implemented by LI-BIRD and the


farmers group with financial support from SDC. The project is coordinated globally by IPGRI. The project is


implemented in four districts of Nepal viz., Ilam (representing eastern mid-hill, wet weather conditions), Jhapa


(representing eastern Terai, wet weather conditions, mix ethnic group of indigenous Terai communities and


migrants from hills), Gulmi (representing western mid-hill, dry weather conditions) and Rupandehi


(representing western Terai, dry weather conditions, mix ethnic group of indigenous Terai communities and


migrants from hills).


9



Home Gardens in Nepal








6-7 August 2004, Pokhara, Nepal








Resham Gautam, Bhuwon Sthapit and Pratap Shrestha, Editors























Citation:



Gautam, R, BR Sthapit and PK Shrestha (eds.) 2006. Home Gardens in Nepal: Proceeding


of a workshop on "Enhancing the contribution of home garden to on-farm management of


plant genetic resources and to improve the livelihoods of Nepalese farmers: Lessons learned


and policy implications", 6-7 August 2004, Pokhara, Nepal. LI-BIRD, Bioversity International


and SDC.




Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD)


PO Box 324


Pokhara


Nepal




Bioversity International


Via dei Tre Denari 472/a


00057 Maccarese (Fiumicino), Rome


Italy




Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)


Coordination Office


PO Box 113


Kathmandu


Nepal




























ii


Table of Contents



Chapter I: Status of homegardens in Nepal



The value of Home Gardens to small farmers (Bhuwon Sthapit, Resham Gautam and Pablo


Eyzaguirre)………………………………………………………………………………………..8



Home Garden’s Contribution to Livelihoods of Nepalese Farmers (Ram P. Pulami and Deepak


Poudel)……………………………………………………………………………………………..18



Homestead Food Production Program in Central and Far-Western Nepal Increases Food and Nutrition


Security: An Overview of Program Achievements (Aminuzzaman Talukder, Gopi Sapkota, Sharmila


Shrestha, Saskia de Pee, Martin W Bloem)………………………………………………….….27



Home Gardens: An Opportunity to Minimize Pressure on Slash and Burn System and Option for


Improving Dietary Diversity on Chepang Households (Bimal R Regmi, Kamal P. Aryal, Bir B.


Tamang and Pratap K. Shrestha)……………………………………………………..….. ……..35



Home gardening as a household nutrient garden (Krishna G.C)……………………………..48



Farmer's experience in home garden improvement (Surya Adhikari)……………………….53



Chapter II: Understanding diversity of homegarden



Status of Home Gardens of Nepal: Findings of Baseline Survey Conducted in Four Sites of Home


Garden Project (Resham Gautam, Rojee Suwal and Pratap K.


Shrestha)……………………………………………………………………………………………..54


Does Shannon-Weaver Index Explain the Species Diversity in Home Gardens? (Sharmila


Sunwar)……………………………………………………………………………………………….66



Staus and composition of Plant Genetic Diversity in Nepalese Home Gardens (Abishkar Subedi, Rojee


Suwal, Resham Gautam, Sharmila Sunwar, Pratap K. Shrestha)……..………………………72



The Role of Gender in the Home Garden Management and Benefit-Sharing from Home Gardens in


Different Productction System of Nepal (Anu Adhikari, Deepa Singh, Rojee Suwal, Pratap K.


Shrestha and Resham Gautam………………………………………….…………………………..84



Assessment of Dietary Diversity: A Basis for Promoting Plant Genetic Species in Home Gardens


(Resham Gautam, Rojee Suwal and B.R. Sthapit)………………………………………………...99



Chapter III: Enabling and empowering homegarden farmers



Enabling and Empowering the community through Collective Learning Process: Lessons Learnt from


Farmers’ Traveling and Learning Workshop (Rojee Suwal, Resham Gautam and B.R.


Sthapit)…………………………………………………………………………………………………105



Policy Supportive Issues in Home Gardening with Respect to Agricultural Bio-diversity and


Improving Rural Livelihood (Bharat Upadhyay) ………………………………………………..113



Mainstreaming findings of home garden project for on-farm biodiversity management and improving


livelihoods: Policy and programme implications (Pratap K Shrestha, Resham Gautam and Bhuwon


Sthapit)……………………………………………………………………………………………….…119



Annexes


A: Summary of the Meeting…………………………………………………….……………126


B: Presentation of Plan Nepal……………………………………………………………….. 130


C: List of authors ………………………………………………………………..……………132


iii Foreword



Pablo B. Eyzaguirre


Senior scientist, Diversity for Livelihoods Programme


Bioversity International, Rome



This book on Nepalese home gardens brings together new research findings and


perspectives to show us how home gardens contribute to the development, nutrition, and


well being of rural households. The extensive literature on home gardens has addressed the


various aspects of food security, nutrition, income, gender, biodiversity and ecosystem


services that characterise home garden systems. The authors of this volume have gone


further than simply enumerating the attributes of home gardens; they have shown how home


gardens can be supported and mobilized as a development intervention that contributes to


empowering rural households by generating income and improved nutrition in ways that are


embedded in local cultures and traditions.



One of the analytical contributions the authors make is to reveal the importance of the


traditional multi-story, multi-purpose home garden that is rich in biodiversity as a crucial


asset for livelihood and health. While terms like kitchen garden have been used by


development agencies in order to emphasise the food security and income aspects,


especially for women, the other health, nutrition, and ecological benefits to households may


have been undervalued. This book has established a clear link between home garden


biodiversity and the dietary diversity that underpins good nutrition and health. Working with


nutrition programmes and development agencies from government and non-government


agencies, the authors have been able to document these linkages and contributions to


incomes, food security, nutrition and health in practice. Finally, if not belatedly, we are


reaching a global consensus that economic development of the rural poor must be part of a


process of empowerment based on control over resources, governance and support for local


institutions the poor can manage. For the authors of this book, home gardens are essential


biological assets under the control of rural households, managed by rules that are


embedded in the culture and customs that lie at the heart of community cohesion and


identity. The great achievement of this book is that it demonstrates how development based


around the traditional Nepali home garden systems fosters community empowerment and


well being.



The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute is grateful to have been part of the


research partnerships that produced this work. The support and motivation provided by the


Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) in Nepal enabled us to build innovative partnerships


among LIBIRD, the National Agricultural Research Council and Department of Agriculture,


National Nutrition Programme of Nepal, Plan Nepal, Care Nepal and leading global actors in


health and nutrition such as Helen Keller International. We hope that this work in Nepal can


serve as model to further community-based biodiversity management for food security,


nutrition and health.


iv Acknowledgements



The publication is a product of the LI-BIRD implemented project entitled “Enhancing the


contribution of home gardens to on-farm management of plant genetic resources and to


improve the livelihoods of Nepalese”. The project is coordinated globally by the IPGRI and


financial contribution is made by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


We gratefully acknowledge the support provided by LI-BIRD, IPGRI and SDC to the project.



We are grateful to Dr. Pablo Eyzaguirre, global coordinator to the home garden project for


his persistent encouragement and support provided to the project. We are thankful to the


professional experts especially Dr. Timothy Jones, McGill University, Canada, Dr. RB Rana,


Research Officer, International and Rural Development Department (IRDD), The University


of Reading UK, contributing authors, field staff of the project and the collaborating farmers


and farming community for their contribution and participation at the various stages of the


project. We wish to thank national project partners' viz. National Agricultural Research


Council, Department of Agriculture, National Food Nutrition Programme of Department of


Food Technology and Quality Control, Plan Nepal, Care Nepal and Helen Keller


International for their effective collaboration with the project.



Finally, we are thankful to Ms Smreety Dewan of Bioversity InternationaI-APO, Nepal and


Mr. Shashish Maharjan for technical support provided and Ms Rachhya Shah, Ms Sita Tiwari


and Ms Muna Udas of LI-BIRD for their contribution in word processing, formatting, layout


and publication management of the proceedings.


v Acronyms



AEZ Agri-Ecological Zones


ANOVA Analysis of Variance


BLM Broad Leaf Mustard


CBS Central Bureau of Statistics


DADO District Agriculture Development Office/Officer


DDC District Development Committee


DEPROSC Development Project Service Center


DFID Department For International Development of UK


DLSO District Livestock Services Office/Officer


DoA Department of Agriculture


DOS Disk Operating System


FFS Farmers’ Field School


FTLW Farmers’ Traveling and Learning Workshop


H’ Shannon-Weaver Index


HARP Hill Agricultural Research Project


HG Home Garden


HGRC Home Garden Research Committee


HH House Hold


HKI Helen Keller International


IAAS Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science


ICIMOD International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development


IDE International Development Enterprises


IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development


IGA Income Gnerating Activities


IK Indigenous Knowledge


INGO International Non-Governmental Organisation


J Evenness Index


KDS Kami, Damai and Sarki (ethnic group)


Kg Kilogram


KSLUB Kerala State Land Use Board of India


LI-BIRD Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development


MV Modern Varieties


NAF Nepal Agroforestry Foundation


NARC Nepal Agricultural Research Council


NEST Nucleus for Empowerment through Skill Transfer


vi NGO Non-Governmental Organisation


NNP National Nutrition Programme


NNSWA Nepal National Social Welfare Association


NOVIB Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation


NRCS Nepal Red Cross Society


NRs Nepalese Rupees


PRA Participatory Rural Appraisal


RRN Rural Reconstruction Nepal


SALT Sloping Agricultural Land Technology


SDC Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation


SOLVE Society of Local Volunteers’ Effort


SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciencees


Sq.m Square meter/meter square


SWI Shanon-Weaver Index


TOLI Team Organising for Local Initiatives


UBINIG Policy Research for Development Alternatives (in Bengali)


VDC Village Development Committee


Vit Vitamin


VMN Village Model Nursery


VMNPF Village Model Nursery and Poultry Farms


WTO World Trade Organisation


λ Simpson Index


vii The Value of Home Gardens to Small farmers



Bhuwon Sthapit, Resham Gautam and Pablo Eyzaguirre



ABSTRACT



The home garden is a traditional component of the rural ecosystem that has been practiced


for a long time by farmers. Home gardens are often overlooked as an important source of


food and nutrition at national level. For subsistence and poor farmers, crop varieties and


cultivars adapted to particular micro-niches around homesteads are crucial and accessible


resources available to provide a secure livelihood. The purpose of this paper is to review the


value of home gardens that contribute to not only food and nutrition but also a wide range of


social, economic and environmental benefits to people. The paper also describes the goods


and services provided by agricultural biodiversity in home gardens that interface between the


natural ecosystem, orchards and crop fields. The paper suggests that the home garden


could be an entry point to empower the community to manage on-farm agricultural


biodiversity while promoting dietary diversity for healthier families and ecosystems.



Key words: Home gardens, kitchen garden, ecosystem, value, dietary diversity, nutrition



DEFINITION



A home garden is a micro-environment composed of a multi-species (annual to perennial,


root crops to climbers etc), multi-storied and multi-purpose garden situated close to the


homestead (Quat, NX, 1996; Watson and Eyzaguirre, 2002; Hodgkin, 2002). A home garden


refers to the traditional land use system around a homestead, where several species of


plants are grown and maintained by the household members and their products are primarily


intended for the family consumption. Several terms have been used to describe these


garden production systems, such as “homestead garden, backyard garden, kitchen garden,


agro forestry, mixed garden, garden culture, etc” (Helen Keller International, 2001; Mictchell


and Hanstad, 2004). The term “home garden” is preferred because it stresses the close


relationship between the garden and the social group residing at home. The home garden


provides a bridge between the social and biological, linking cultivated species and natural


ecosystems, combining, and conserving species diversity and genetic diversity (Eyzaguirre


and Linares, 2004). The importance of home gardens is evident across countries and


societies. Different cultures and customs have different names for this homestead production


system, for example, Conuco in Cuba and Venezuela (Castineiras et al., 2000; Mulas et al.,


2004), Vuon nha in Vietnam (Trinh et al., 2003), Pekarangan in Indonesia (Abdoellah et al.,


2003). Those millions of households throughout the world that keep their biodiversity close at


hand, that use it daily for multiple purposes, that imbue it with cultural and spiritual value, are


providing a lesson to all humanity on the importance and value of biodiversity. For this


reason alone, Eyzaguirre and Linares (2004) voiced that home gardens are to be celebrated,


supported and conserved.



The Nepalese context



The home garden, literally known in Nepali as Ghar Bagaincha, refers to the traditional land


use system around a homestead, where several species of plants are grown and maintained


by household members and their products are primarily intended for the family consumption


Figure 1, (Shrestha et al., 2002). The term “home garden” is often considered synonymous


to the kitchen garden. However, they differ in terms of function, size, diversity, composition


and features (Table 1). In Nepal, 72% of households have home gardens of an area 2-11%


of the total land holdings (Gautam et al., 2004). Because of their small size, the government


has never identified home gardens as an important unit of food production and it thereby


8 remains neglected from research and development. Traditionally home gardens are an


important source of quality food and nutrition for the rural poor and, therefore, are important


contributors to the food security and livelihoods of farming communities in Nepal. They are


typically cultivated with a mixture of annual and perennial plants that can be harvested on a


daily or seasonal basis. Biodiversity that has an immediate value is maintained in home


gardens as women and children have easy access to preferred food, and for this reason


alone we should promote home gardens as a key element for a healthy way of life.



Home gardens, with their intensive and multiple uses, provide a safety net for households


when food is scarce. These gardens are not only important sources of food, fodder, fuel,


medicines, spices, herbs, flowers, construction materials and income in many countries, they


are also important for the in situ conservation of a wide range of unique genetic resources


for food and agriculture (Subedi et al., 2004). Many uncultivated, as well as neglected and


underutilised species could make an important contribution to the dietary diversity of local


communities (Gautam et al., 2004). Nepalese home gardens are dynamic in their evolution,


composition and uses. Their structure, functions, and both inter- and intra-specific genetic


diversity, have been influenced by changes in socioeconomic circumstances and the cultural


values of users of these gardens. Furthermore, farmers often use home gardens as a site for


the experimentation, introduction and domestication of plants (Shrestha et al., 2002;


Eyzaguirre and Linares, 2004). Typically, home gardens are valued for the following specific


uses (Shrestha et al., 2002):


• Food security, nutrition and a cash income


• Fodder, firewood and timber


• Spices, herbs and medicinal plants


• Green manures and pesticide crops


• Cultural and religious uses


Home gardens also constitute a valuable part of the in situ conservation method, but their


importance for genetic resources conservation is still not widely recognized. Home gardens


are common in many rural areas of Nepal. They usually have a well defined structure with


fodder and fruit trees predominant at the periphery of homestead. Moving inwards, the


canopy is progressively reduced by planting vegetable and arable crops. Gautam et al.,


(2005) reported that there are many key species that are found only in home garden and


they are interconnected by informal germplasm exchanges.



Reasons for the rich diversity of species in home gardens



Home gardens, one of the oldest forms of managed land-use systems, are considered to be


the richest in species diversity per unit area. Several landraces and cultivars, and rare and


endangered species have been preserved in the home gardens (Watson and Eyzaguirre,


2002; Kumar and Nair, 2004). However, species richness of home gardens within a region is


influenced by homestead size, structure, climatic conditions, market and socio cultural


forces.


In the wetter parts of the middle hill areas of Nepal (e.g. Illam), more than 75% of home


gardens have 21 to 50 diverse species per household, whereas the drier conditions of Gulmi


nurture 11-40 species (Gautam et al., 2004)1. In Nepalese home gardens, richness of home



1 A project entitled “enhancing the contribution of home gardens to on-farm management of plant genetic


resources and to improve the livelihoods of Nepalese farmers” is being implemented by LI-BIRD and the


farmers group with financial support from SDC. The project is coordinated globally by IPGRI. The project is


implemented in four districts of Nepal viz., Ilam (representing eastern mid-hill, wet weather conditions), Jhapa


(representing eastern Terai, wet weather conditions, mix ethnic group of indigenous Terai communities and


migrants from hills), Gulmi (representing western mid-hill, dry weather conditions) and Rupandehi


(representing western Terai, dry weather conditions, mix ethnic group of indigenous Terai communities and


migrants from hills).


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