Home Garden Project: Nepal
This is one of 50 Harvesting Nutrition project case studies. Harvesting Nutrition was a contest held in 2012 and 2013 that showcased active projects working to improve the impact of agriculture and/or food security on nutrition outcomes. Co-sponsors were SecureNutrition, Save the Children UK, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Learn More.
Enhancing Family Nutrition and Income for improved livelihoods of Resource Poor and Disadvantaged Groups through Integrated Home Gardens in Nepal.
The first phase of home garden project (2002-2005) was started with the intention to understand the scientific basis of management of agriculture biodiversity in home garden and the contribution that the home gardens are having into the livelihood of Nepali households. Once the study provided facts that there is tremendous scope to intervene, the second phase (2006-2008) started working on integrated management of home gardens for increased species diversity and level of production of home gardens. The primary intention of this intervention was to improve family nutrition through dietary diversification and the secondary was to contribute to family income through selling the surplus. The third phase of home garden (2009-2013) expanded the coverage and tried to demonstrate home garden as a successful approach to address disadvantaged groups for their nutritional benefit so that it could be integrated by governmental and nongovernmental programs which have capacity to scale out the concept at national level. Hence in addition to promoting integrated homestead agro-biodiversity management the third phase equally emphasized on creating supportive institution and policy environment for mainstreaming home garden concept. Overall, the basic objective always followed by LI-BIRD's home garden project was to diversify diet of the resource poor families through increasing home garden diversity (vegetable, fruit and integrated livestock, fish, mushroom and honey bee).
Impact of project:
Various orientation and awareness activities have helped farmers to understand the nutritional aspect as well as potential of home garden to improve family nutrition. All the beneficiary families have increased/added diversity in to their home gardens with the help of diversity kit (composite of seeds and saplings) as well as the management technologies shared by the project. Besides the resource poor households were able to increase consumption of meat (goat, chicken and pig), mushroom, and fish in addition to vegetables and fruits. Surplus production form vegetable, fruits or other integrated components in home garden not only had direct contribution to family diet but also helped indirectly to buy new food from market which they do not have by selling the surplus home garden products.
79% of 7700 families increased consumption of fresh home garden products by additional 6 types per season after the three years intervention of home garden phase III (March 2009 to July 2013). Similarly 56% HHs reduced expenditure on vegetable by 75% and 50% households at least doubled their home garden income to make it more than NRs 5000 per year. Disadvantaged groups especially women were well organized and started discussing their common problems and seeking support from responsible agencies. Hence the project has been successful to showcase the effectiveness of home garden approach for the improvement of family nutrition, income as well as social capacity of disadvantaged groups. Government institutions and different Non-Government programs also have made responsive towards home gardening for the nutritional benefit of smallholder farmers. Commitment from Government of Nepal (Department of Agriculture) to start home garden project in wider scale in coming days has been taken as one of the major achievements of this project.
Why this project is a Good Practice example:
Most of agriculture based food security programs focus only those farmers who have sizable land for cultivation. But that rural resource poor and socially discriminated group who have very limited land, landless and land poor are usually excluded from such agricultural programs. Therefore homestead based intervention of integrated agriculture can be a strategic means to address small holder farming families as well as women who need special care by the nutrition programs. Being women focused intervention it can have a greater influence in dietary change of the family. In countries like Nepal it is women who decide what to cook and how to manage.
The concept of Home Garden promoted by LI-BIRD follows the principal of local resource base low input agriculture. Use of local seeds, sustainable soil management practices and integrated farming principles are promoted. It makes the intervention sustainable in long term. Our past experience reveals that the interventions made by home garden project are easily adopted by the target beneficiaries since it does not require high level of inputs and skills. Likewise the concept of home garden could be easily inserted by any livelihood focused program/projects as a component of dietary diversification for the nutritional benefit of its impact group. The rationale is: home garden intervention do not requires high budget. LI-BIRD's experience shows that annual budget of Rs 1500 (about $ 15) for two to three years for each household is sufficient to improve their home gardens to have significant improvement in dietary habit of the family.
Impact evaluation in progress
The traditional kitchen garden program of Nepalese government as well as other INGOs promoted hybrid seeds and high input agriculture principles in the past (before starting home garden by LI-BIRD). Crop diversification and sustainable management principles were completely missed which made the program less effective and unsustainable. In contrast home garden project first analyzed the situation to find the gap in nutrition as well as the farmer's capacity to adopt the offered technology/support. Such anlysis while designing the support package made the intervention effective and sustainable. Besides, promotion of local biodiversity has been found effective and sustainable way to have change in dietary habit of rural poor. Community actions like biodiversity fairs, diversity kits (seed composite), and local resource gardens are the good practices and are considered as one of the key lessons learned.
Since the level of nutritional awareness in rural society is very poor, nutrition projects must keep awareness activities as a primary component. Once the impact group understands about nutrition and the value of homestead agriculture the intervention becomes easier and effective. Otherwise the change might become ephemeral. Modest investment in social and institutional capacity building of women/disadvantaged groups would have a significant pay off. This can empower women and the excluded members of society in have participation in community level planning and decision making. The project achieved tremendous success in terms of increasing home garden crop diversity. If it could have added culinary components to preserve nutrients, the project have achieved additional impression regarding the change in nutritional status of impact groups. It can be taken as a missed opportunity of LI-BIRD's home garden project intervention
Funders: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Project Dates: Started in 2002, interventions began in 2006, and since 2009 scaled up to 16 districts. Completed in July 2013.
Interventions: Assess the context at the local level, Empower women, Target the vulnerable and improve equity, Expand markets and market access for vulnerable groups,
Target Population: Women, Mothers, Rural households, Children under 5, Parents,
Project Stage: Completed
Geographic Coverage: State/Province