Overpopulated, largely poor, and environmentally degraded, the nation of Bangladesh has known its share of woes. Yet even in face of struggles, including a forest loss of over 90 percent, the women of Bangladesh are aiding the country’s struggling people and biodiversity through the establishment of some 20 million homegardens. Long-neglected by the government and NGOs, these homegardens provide food, firewood, and medicine.
A new paper published in the open access journal Tropical Conservation Science explores the participation of women in homegarden management activities in Bangladesh. The paper looks at the impact of homegardens on women’s incomes and livelihood, while assessing the Bangladeshi women’s awareness of how homegardens support biodiversity and environmental sustainability, including reducing pressure on the remaining forests.
Bangladesh woman working in homegarden.
Through interviews, the study finds that men and women share duties in the homegarden, but women spend on average more time. Reasons for starting a homegarden include substantial benefits, such as food security, extra income from selling products, health care through herbal medicines, and environmental services.
The homegardens not only provide families with better economic circumstances, but help sustain livelihoods across communities, preserve agricultural biodiversity, and aid beleaguered forests.
The study recommends that governments and international organizations recognize the value of homegardens and work to aid families to continue the positive practice through education and incentives.
Citation: Akhter, S., Alamgir, M., Sohel, M. S. I., Rana, M. P. and Chowdhury, M. S. H. 2010. The role of women in traditional farming systems as practiced in homegardens: a case study in Sylhet Sadar Upazila, Bangladesh. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 3(1):17-30.
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