A vast majority of rural people in Bangladesh who cultivate land for crop production remains unemployed for a considerable period of the year because of seasonality of production activities and labor requirements. Homestead farming is the best answer to such unemployment situation through both vegetable growing, and culture of quick growing fruits enabling the people to remain employed round the year (Ahmad 1995). It has been found that over the decades, small-scale homestead activities have become the most significant income generating activities of poor households (Fig. 16.13). For example, over 5 million people in Bangladesh live in the riverine sand and silt landmasses (known as char in Bengali). These areas are highly prone to sudden flooding and erosion of land, and makes living in the chars hazardous and insecure. The Helen Keller International's homestead food production program was found to provide support to the fragile livelihood in the chars and improved the well-being of the entire household by promoting low cost technologies for gardening and livestock raising, improving food security and dietary practices, providing employment for women and a source of income for the household (Helen Keller International 2003). A. heterophyllus (jackfruit) based system (a century old homestead production system in Bangladesh particularly in terrace ecosystem in the central part and hill ecosystem in east and southeast part) provides diversified outputs to the growers. The jackfruits are consumed almost as the main food during the main harvesting periods (July-August) and the seeds are used in various cooked forms (Miah and Ahmed 2003). In addition, nonedible
portion of the fruit and green leaves are fed to cattle and goats; its wood is used for making all kinds of household furniture. During the season, almost all members of the family remain busy with harvesting, transportation, and marketing of fruits. In addition, thousands of peoples are also involved in transportation and marketing of jackfruit as usual business during the season. Similarly, latkan (B. sapida) based production system, which is predominant in flood free areas of Narsingdi district and in hill districts, where farmers were found to earn significant amount of cash income annually. A high benefit-cost ratio (4) and internal rate of return (51%) was reported from a recent study at Narsingdi area (Alam 2004). Like jackfruits, hundreds of people are involved with the production and marketing of Latkan (B. sapida) fruits.
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