Homestead Agroforestry and Management A Key Employment Opportunity for the Women

Women, the vulnerable group of the society and half of the country's population, have a great opportunity for self-employment in the income-generation activities through the practice of vegetable and fruit production in the homestead. Homestead agrofor-estry activities are keeping busy the entire households particularly the women who have minimum opportunities to be involved with other than homestead activities and ensuring the economic security especially to the poorer. The possibility of gender equality for participating in home garden management and sharing of benefits is perhaps one of the major stimuli for continued household food security enjoyed by home gardeners (Kumar and Nair 2004). Homestead being the dwelling place, enables the women for efficient management of homestead activities. Use of family labor, especially women labor, in the production process not only satisfies a wide range of domestic needs more economically but also ensures lowering of production costs and ultimately promotes more income. Average return per decimal of homestead land is far more than that of large farm households, possibly due to the more intensive labor inputs on the part of women in poor households (Ahmad 1995).

In Bangladesh, women were once mostly involved in the household activities particularly in taking care of children and other family members, preparing and serving food to members of the household. But the scenarios have changed gradually as the women are now becoming the potential producer of the of homestead products in Bangladesh (Fig. 16.14). Women are deeply involved in the process of homestead farming from sowing to harvesting, processing and marketing of products (Chowdhury et al. 1992; FSES 1999). Although every member of the family has some contribution in homestead farming, the major labour input is contributed by women (Sultana 1993). Their roles vary widely depending upon the socioeconomic and religious factors. It has been shown that female labors of landless families gave the maximum time compared to other categories of families (Nessa et al. 1998). They spend about one fourth of their total time in homestead production activities and increase family income (Ali 2003). Generally, women with their

Fig. 16.14 A woman engaged in homestead gardening, besides household activities

various homestead production activities such as seedling raising, small-scale animal, poultry rearing, etc., increase family income (Akther 1990). It has been reported that women earned Tk 18,160 (US$1 = Tk 60) annually from homestead farming by spending about 20% of their total time (Miah and Parveen 1993). Although, women play significant role in homestead production and management, still there remains immense opportunity for improvement of homestead production by enriching their knowledge and skill. Women, therefore, need to be empowered in skills and knowledge that will enable them to more active and meaningful participation in the homestead production activities.

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