Historically, homestead agroforestry production system has been providing multiple products to the households and meeting their diversified need through the production of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, spices, and different tree products (Miah et al. 2002). The prevailing climatic and edaphic conditions of Bangladesh are the key factors for providing such a unique opportunity of producing a wide range of products (Fig. 16.8). It has been reported that homestead production system collectively contributes about 70% fruits, 40% vegetables, 70% timber, and 90% firewood and bamboo requirement of the country (Miah and Ahmed 2003).
Homesteads, regardless of ecological and socioeconomic diversities, own at least a few fruit crops. Fruit crops cover an area of about 100,000 ha, nearly 80% of which are grown in home gardens (MoA-UNPD 2000). MoA-UNDP further reported that 43 fruit crops were grown in a wide diversity of soils and climates of Bangladesh. Among them, the predominant fruit crops are mango (Mangifera indica), jackfruit (A. heterophyllus), banana (Musa spp.), papaya (Carica papaya), coconut (Cocos nucifera) and betel nut (Areca catechu). The other commonly found species are citrus (orange, mandarin, grape, lime, and lemon), star fruit (Averhola carambola), jujube (Z. jujube), jamun (S. cuminii), guava (P. guajava), litchi (Litchi chinensis), pomegranate (P. granatum), woodapple (Aegle marmelos), olive (Elaeocarpus flo-ribundus), latkan (Baccaurea sapida), palmyra palm (B. flabellifer), Hog plum (Spondias pinnata), etc. Similar information have also been recorded by Basak (2002) who identified 42 fruit species either perennial or annual in homesteads in 15 districts under four distinct ecological zones (Dry land, Plain land, Hill, and Saline area) of Bangladesh. He also found a wide variation among the locations where the highest number of species was observed at Saline area (34 types) and the lowest in Plain land (12 types). Similarly, several regions specialized in certain fruit crops such as banana in Narsingdi and Jessore, mango in Chapai Nowabgonj and Rajshahi, jackfruit in Gazipur and Chittagong, pineapple in Chittagong and Sylhet, betelnut in Barisal and Rangpur regions, hog plum in Barisal are also reported (MoA-UNPD 2000). Generally, the people who live in remote villages are poor and pay more attention to growing fruit trees in view of getting both fruits and timber/ fuel wood from the same species (Fig. 16.9). Most of the fruits produced in homesteads are consumed at domestic level. A study carried out at the Old Brahmaputra floodplain areas of Bangladesh showed that a total of 285 kg fruits were collected from trees and shrubs annually from a homestead of which the maximum portion (244 kg fruit/year) was consumed by the household (Miah and Sadeq 2003). Generally, the rich group of farmers consumed the maximum amounts of fruits by themselves as compared to the poor group of farmers. As the poor group belongs to subsistence livelihood, they have to sell maximum portion of fruits for earning cash to meet the other needs of the families.
Like fruit crops, vegetables, which are recognized as nutrition givers of the highest order, are grown in Bangladesh mostly in homesteads from time immemorial. As in the case of fruits, vegetables belong to the group of "protective foods," which a
provide essential vitamins and minerals (Tsou 1992). The land of Bangladesh has a unique opportunity where a large number of diversified vegetables are grown. About 60 different vegetables of indigenous and exotic origin are grown mainly in homestead and flood-free lands (MoA-UNPD 2000). Based on growing seasons, vegetables are categorized into summer/rainy season, winter, and all-season types. Summer vegetables covering an area of 94,000 ha and winter vegetables covering 154, 000 ha are cultivated mainly in homesteads (MoA-UNPD 2000).
Homestead gardening, especially vegetable production is an important household activity contributing to both economic welfare and family diets (Helen Keller International 2001). Vegetables are produced either for commercial purpose or for home consumption. Commercial gardens are often relatively large in size but encompass a fewer number of species, sometimes just one vegetable in the entire season such as pulwal (Trichosanthes dioeca). The homestead gardens are usually small in size but encompass a variety of vegetables depending upon farmer's choice for year round production (Fig. 16.10).
An intensive homestead vegetable production model involving 14 vegetables (known as Kalikapur model) proved very effective in proper utilization of the underutilized homestead space, increasing vegetable consumption by the resource-poor farmers, alleviating family nutrition, and involving women and children (Chowdhury et al. 1992). The model was extended to 20,000 homesteads, mostly among the landless and marginal farmers, in 135 thanas of 54 districts across the country (Hossain 1995). A new system suitable for southern part of Bangladesh (saline area) was suggested (Ahmad 1995). This involved digging of mini pond and growing herbaceous and bushy vegetables on their banks and creeping vegetables (such as bitter gourd, bottle gourd, and hyacinth beans) placed on trellis over the pond area as well as cultivating fish inside the pond. This system was found profitable for both
the poor and the middle-class farmers. Miah and Sadeq (2003) identified 14 vegetable species cultivated in the homestead of Old Brahmaputra floodplain areas of Bangladesh most of which are grown in the winter season. They also reported that a family could collect 183 kg of vegetable per year from the homestead of which the major portion was consumed. Results from a pilot program at 290 demonstration plots across the six districts in the northern part of Bangladesh showed that homestead vegetable gardening supplied 267 kg of vegetables in the first year (1997) and 540 kg of vegetables in the second year (1998) from an area of 100 m2 of land against the requirement of 432 kg for a six-member family (Samsuzzaman 2002). A substantial amount of revenue was earned from the sale of vegetables, which made a supplementary source of income in the subsistence livelihood.
Spices are the essential ingredients in the daily diet/curry. Daily per capita consumption of spices at homestead level in rural areas is about 1 g (MoA-UNPD 2000). Its total demand is increasing in cognizance with the increase of population. The important spices crops are chilli (Capsicum spp.), onion (Allium cepa), garlic (Allium sativum), turmeric (Curcuma longa), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and coriander (Coriandrum sativum). All these are grown throughout the country especially in homestead agroforestry system (Fig. 16.11) though yield levels vary across the locations. Generally, resource-poor and small farmers are the main producers and earn cash income in addition to their own consumption. The greater opportunity of producing spices especially turmeric, ginger, chilli, and coriander in homestead level is the genetic ability of those species to grow under shade provided by different types of trees, and trellis made for growing other vegetables. Research findings showed that turmeric, ginger, aroid, and coriander could grow successfully under 50% shade (Miah et al. 2001, 2003; Moniruzzaman 2004), aroids and chili under 30-40% shade (Miah et al. 2003), while onion can grow well under 25% shade level (Miah et al. 1999). However, all these spices have high demand and market price, but returns per unit area are low due to poor yield levels and lack of processing/storing capacity. If the production and processing levels could be improved, these spice crops would earn more income and contribute greatly in import substitution and export.
Fuel wood is the principal energy source in Bangladesh in spite of the rapid growth in the commercial energy sector. Shortage of fuel wood and timber has raised serious concerns in Bangladesh in recent years. Thousands of poor families in rural areas have been forced to reduce the number of cooking meals, especially in rainy seasons (Abedin and Quddus 1990; Miah et al. 1989). Many households are meeting their immediate fuel wood and timber demand by cutting the immature trees. Farmers use dried cow dung cake and most crop residues as domestic fuel instead of recycling them in the crop fields. This is leading to rapid decline in soil fertility of agricultural lands
(Sharifullah et al. 1992; Miah et al. 2002). This situation arises due to overwhelming population pressure and poor forest resources. The forest resources, which are inadequate to meet the national demand of forest products, are still shrinking at an alarming rate of 3.3% annually, and consequently severely threatening energy security and quality of life (Miah et al. 2002). Fortunately, tree resources grown in the homestead are acting as a prime source of fuel wood and timber in addition to supply of fruits and other products. In fact, homestead has been supplying about 80-90% of total requirement of fuel wood and timber for a long time (FAO 1982; Haq 1986; Abedin and Quddus 1990) and its contribution is increasing as the supply of forest products are decreasing. Over 80% of traded wood produced in Bangladesh are derived from homesteads and other plantings on village land production. This is estimated to amount to over 5 million cubic meter or Tk 20 million taka (US$1 = Tk 60) per year - the majority from smallholdings (Intercooperation 2000). The jackfruit, jamun, mango, and many other fruit and timber species are the principal sources of timber and fuel wood (Miah et al. 2002), while bamboo, coconut, betel nut, palymra palm, etc. also provide useful building materials for the rural households (Torquesbiau 1992; Basak 2002; Miah and Ahmed 2003). Trees also provide farmers with materials for fence posts, poles, farm implements, and household furniture. Quddus et al. (1989) reported that homestead-grown trees are used as the industrial raw materials in pulp and paper mills, hardboard mills, and in match factories. In the match industries, Anthocephalus cadamba, Alstonia scholaris, and Trewia nudiflora are used for splint making. The standing trees are purchased and sometimes they are kept standing for sometime if the purchaser comes from the same locality, or they may be harvested as early as possible. In poverty-stricken situations or in the off-season, the price of trees goes down, and the traders take advantage of that situation and buy trees from the farmers and harvest at their convenient time. Fuelwood marketing continues throughout the year, though during the dry season bulk quantities are sold when the commercial activities such as brick making, lime processing, tobacco curing, gur making, etc., take place. During the dry season the traders usually build up their stocks for the coming wet season when the demand for wood fuel is very high for domestic cooking (Hussain 1995). Recent investigation stated that tree-planting pattern has been changed from fruit tree plantation to quick growing fuel wood and timber species in cognizance with own demand and high market prices (Anam 1999; Basak 2002).
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