Family food garden
With the global population expected to reach over 9billion by 2050, there is a continuous need to increase food production and buffer stocks.
Countries around the world, especially developing countries where hunger and food scarcity is more acute, are resorting to various counter strategies to meet growing demand and to avert food insecurity and famine.
Presently over 40percent of Nigeria’s population is food insecured. It is also reported that the food problem is not peculiar to Nigeria.
It has attracted a global attention as more than 800million people throughout the developing contries, and some 40 millions in developed countries do not have enough food to meet their basic needs and millions more experience hunger, malnutrition, growth retardation and sometimes death due to starvation.
In recent years there has been growing interest to strengthen and intensify local food production in order to mitigate the adverse effect of global food shocks and food price volatilities.
Consequently, there is much attention towards family food garden or home gardens as a strategy to enhance household food security and nutrition.
Family food gardens are a time tested local strategy that are widely adopted and practiced in various circumstances by local communities with limited resource and instituted support.
Family food gardens or home food gardens are a part of the agriculture and food production systems in many developing countries and are widely used as a remedy to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in the face of global food crisis.
“Food production on small plots adjacent to human settlement is the oldest and most enduring form of cultivation’’ Home Gardens have been an integral component of family farming and local food production.
Home gardening is an ancient and widespread practice all over the world.
In agricultural terms , home gardens are classified as mixed, kitchen, backyard, farmyard, compound or homestead garden.
Generally, home gardening refers to the cultivation of a small piece of land, which may be around the household or within walking distance from the family home.
Home gardeners are found in both rural and urban areas in predominantly small-scale subsistence agricultural systems.
The very beginning of modern agriculture can be dated back to subsistence production systems that began in small garden plots around the household.
These gardens have endured the test of time and continue to play an important role in providing food and income for the family.
The home garden are places where one should be able to find a little of everything; fruits, ,vegetable, condiments, medicinal herbs, dyes, wood for fires or buildings, poles, fibres, flowers, incense, calabashes etc. Tropical Home Gardens Tropical home gardens consists of an assemblage of plants which may include trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants growing in or adjacent to a homestead or home compound.
In this system multipurpose trees and shrubs in a multistory association with agricultural crops are raised with livestock in homestead. Imanaged by family labor.
Home garden can be described as a mixed cropping system that encompasses vegetables, fruits, plantation crops, herbs, spices, ornamental and medicinal plants as well as live stock that can serve as supplementary source of food and income.
The home garden frequently uses family labor- women, children and elders of particular importance in their management but depending on the economic capacity and affordability, households may hire wage laborers to cultivate and maintain the home garden that in turn affect the composition and intensity of home garden activities.
Home gardens are mainly intended to grow and produce food items for family consumption, but they can be diversified to produce output that have multiple uses including indigenous medicine and home remedies for certain illnesses, kindling and alternative fuel source, manure, building material, and animal feed.
Enhancing Food And Nutritional Security
The most fundamental social benefit of home gardens stem from their direct contributions to household food security, by increasing availability, accessibility, and utilization of food products.
Home garden are maintained for easy access to fresh plant and animal food source in both rural and urban locales.
Food items from home garden add substantially to family energy and nutritive requirements on a continuous basis.
Experience in developing nations point out a direct link between successful home garden and households nutritional status, and observation of increase in household food consumption with intensification of home food products and the potential of home gardens to add to household food supply and nutrition, as well as their eminence as multi-storied agro-ecosystem in the tropics, heightened the global attention towards home gardens.
Home gardens provide easy day-to-day access to an assortment of fresh and nutritious foods for the household.
Supporting this premise, different studies concluded that while adding to the caloric quantity, home gardens supplement staple-based diet with a significant portion of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, leading to an enriched and balanced diet particularly for growing children and mothers.
Additionally, plants from the gardens especially spices and herbs are used as flavor enhancers, teas, and condiments for poor and marginalized families unable to afford expensive animal product to fulfill nutritional needs, home garden offer a cheap source of nutritive foods.
Through gardening household can have better access to a diversity of plant and animal food items that leads to an overall increase in dietary intake and boost the bioavailability and absorption of essential nutrients.
Further more, the integration of livestock and poultry activities into home gardens reinforces food and nutritional security for families as milk, eggs, and meat from home raised animals provided the main and in protein.
In some places, home gardeners also engaged in mushroom cultivation, bee keeping, snail production, and even fresh water fish ponds are incorporated into the garden space adding to the share of proteins and other nutrients available for the family.
The global hunger index specified that the lack of political stability has escalated hunger and poverty in countries affected by conflicts.
Home gardeners habitually exchange or gift planting materials, vegetables, fruits, leaves, herbs and medicinal plants for social, cultural, and religious purposes.
The social dimension of home garden is yet not fully explored.
Home gardens can contribute to household economic well-being in several ways; through income generation, improved livelihood and household economic welfare as well as promoting entrepreneurship and rural development in several ways garden produces can be sold to earn additional income, gardening activities can be developed into small cottage industry and earnings from sales of home garden products and the savings from consuming home grown food products can lead to more disposable income that can be used for other domestic purposes.
Home garden provide multiples environmental and ecological benefits.
They serve as the primary unit that initiates and utilize ecologically friendly approaches for food production while conserving biodiversity and natural resources.
Home gardens are usually diverse and contain a rich composition of plant and animal species hence they make interesting cases for ethno botanical studies.
Home garden provide a number of ecosystem services such as habitants for animals and other beneficial organism, nutrient recycling, reduced soil erosion, and enhanced pollination.
The high density of plants within the home garden provides the ideal environment and refuge for wild life species such as birds, small mammals, reptiles, and insect.
A number of ecosystem services provided by home gardens such as production of quality food, maintenance of landraces reduction of soil erosion, land conservation, cultural services, pest control, and pollination make experts conclude that the most important ecosystem services provided by home garden differs from large-scale commercial agriculture.
Individuals of house holds animals, and plants all maintain a symbiotic relationship within the home garden.
For instance the plant and animals provide food and other benefit for the family and the family in turn takes cares of the home garden plant materials are used as fodder for the animals and animal manure is incorporated into the compost to fertilize plants, hence reducing the need for chemical fertilizer. Household Food Security And Home Gardens
The interaction of these factors have led to food insecurity and the idea of self-sufficiency is becoming more and more difficult to achieve due to declining agricultural production and inefficient food marketing system.
Prospects of Home Gardens
Food security at household levels which exists when all members of the family have access to food of adequate quantity and quality consistent with decent existence at all times, has the following features 1., Accessibility to food. 2., Stability of supplies overtime to guarantee availability at any given time. 3.,Availability of enough food for achieving healthy life. 4., Utilization of food viz a viz ingestion of enough and qualitative food for maintenance of good health.
These features can be achieved by the following prospects of of home gardens: economic development of household, diversity of of food in home garden,stability of food supply over time, and ecological role of home.
Home gardens are good avenues for ensuring food security in the households .
If food is secured in all households it means food is secured in all locality, it means food is secured in all regions, it means food is secured in all regions, it means food is secured in all nations, it means food is secured in the world.
So it is necessary to start addressing the problems of food insecurity from the households by establishing home , or call it ,family food gardens.
If there is food security in our households through the establishment of home gardens in both urban and rural settlements, inferentially there will be food security in our nation.