Seeding a Sustainable Tomorrow: Climate-Smart Homestead Gardening for Improved Nutrition
In Bangladesh’s Khulna District, Sahena Khatun, her husband and 15-year-old son had long survived on just her husband's farming income, the equivalent of $70 a month. Her own attempts to bolster her family’s income and nutrition through traditional farming had proved futile due to substandard inputs and lack of good agricultural practices. Additionally, farming in this district, near the Bay of Bengal, has become more difficult recently, as climate change has raised sea levels and increased the frequency of cyclones. Much of the district is now considered saline-prone, limiting the yields of farms and gardens.
In November 2022, Sahena began participating in a public–private initiative to establish family nutrition gardens on homesteads and uncultivable fallow land, spearheaded by the Feed the Future Bangladesh Nutrition Activity. With USAID grant support, the Bangladeshi company Team AgriScience provided improved seeds for red amaranth, Indian spinach, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, sponge gourd and sweet gourd — all rich in Vitamin A, easy to grow, and in high demand by local markets. Meanwhile, with the facilitation of the Activity, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) offered hands-on training in improved and climate-smart technologies, such as seedling trays, coco-peat, sex pheromone traps and yellow sticky cards. Sahena adopted several production methods — including bed, pit, sack and vertical — to ensure safe and plentiful cultivation of various vegetables throughout the year.
Four months after starting with the initiative, Sahena has transformed her humble homestead into a flourishing nutritional paradise. She gives her surplus production to her neighbors or sells it in the nearby marketplace, yielding an average of $19 per month — a 40-percent increase in their family income. Her family now relishes a wholesome, diverse and secure diet.
"As a mother, it used to concern me deeply how to provide my family with healthy and diverse food options,” Sahena said. “Thanks to the climate-smart technology and improved production systems facilitated by this USAID initiative, I am now able to harvest an abundance of vegetables from my own garden and earn additional income.”
Across Khulna and Faridpur districts, this collaboration of the Activity, DAE, and Team AgriScience has enabled over 18,000 households to adopt improved seeds, climate-smart agricultural technology, and improved management practices in producing and consuming nutritious, diverse, and safe food. These interventions increased the minimum dietary diversity for women from 81 percent (baseline survey, 2020) to 98 percent (annual survey, 2022). Sahena alone has inspired 20 neighboring homestead gardeners to follow in her footsteps, embracing production of a diverse range of year-round vegetables using ecofriendly agricultural technology.
“This collaborative endeavor has been an absolute blessing, and I am filled with a deep appreciation for the transformative impact it has had on my life," Sahena said.