Why is home gardening needed?

The National Nutrition Survey of 1981-82 revealed that in Bangladesh the average intake of vitamin A was only 38% of the recommended daily amount and that 88% of families consumed even less than that. That survey also revealed that vegetables were the main source of vitamin A in the diet. The National Nutritional Blindness Prevalence Survey (NNBP) conducted in 1982-83 found that only 13% of children under 5 ate vegetables. The main responses for not eating vegetables were stated to be either non-availability or high cost. The reasons for the low consumption of vitamin A would therefore seem to be not only the poor availability of vitamin A-rich vegetables but also the prohibitive cost of those vegetables that are available. In addition, a general lack of awareness about the importance of vitamin A in the diet adds further constraints to vegetable intake.

Home and Garden

Bangladesh does not produce enough vegetables to meet the needs of the population: it is estimated that local production meets only 25% of total requirements. Therefore, it follows that vegetable production falls far short of meeting the optimum nutritional need. The present daily consumption is about 30 gm per person although the average adult requires at least 200 gm.

About 10% of the 14 million homes in Bangladesh have an average area of 810 square meters. There is considerable fallow land around the homes which can be used for vegetable production. By establishing a home garden, a marginal or poor family can grow enough vegetables for consumption and also be left with a surplus to sell at the local market to generate additional family income. Experiments conducted in Thailand and Taiwan by the Asian Vegetable Research Development Center (AVRDC) have shown that it is possible for small gardens to produce enough foods rich in vitamin A (among other nutrients) to meet the family's requirements. The NNBP found that families with home gardens were less at risk of xerophthalmia and other problems associated with vitamin A deficiency.

In the long term, home gardening can play a vital role in the prevention of nutritional blindness in Bangladesh. It is also a familiar, traditional concept to people in the rural areas of Bangladesh.

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