The country consists of 68,000 villages and each village contains about 268 homesteads (BBS 2005). It is the center of socioeconomic activities and traditional cultural heritage of villages in Bangladesh. Homesteads are multipurpose entities with dwellings, vegetables, spices, fruits, and fuelwood/timber species (Fig. 16.1). The homesteads the people live in are locally known as "Bari," which occur in linear, cluster, or individual pattern (Hussain and Miah 2004). Homesteads are perhaps the most important production unit in Bangladesh, with about 25.36 million of these in the urban and 21.90 million in the rural areas (BBS 2001). These homesteads occupied about 0.54 million hectares of land (BBS 2001) and this figure is increasing at the rate of 5 m2/ha/year (Anam 1999). The average size of the rural homestead is very small, which varies widely according to region and socioeconomic status of the households. Basak (2002) studied homesteads at different ecological zones in Bangladesh and observed that the average homestead sizes for the landless, small, medium, and large farmers were 0.097, 0.348, 0.486, and 0.850 ha respectively. He also reported that the homesteads and their vegetation in saline (0.36 ha)
(southwestern part) and hill (0.53 ha) (eastern part) regions are relatively larger in size compared to dry land areas (0.26 ha) (north western part) due to socioeconomic and climatic advantages. There exists a positive relationship between the farm size and homestead area, i.e., larger the farm size, larger the homestead area (Bashar 1999; Anam 1999; Ahmed 1999; Basak 2002). Depending on the locations, the homestead is raised above the flood level from the surrounding fields.
Generally, a homestead possesses at least a living room, a kitchen room, and a few tree species. Besides, there are some vacant spaces for different production purposes. A typical homestead accommodates a single or several houses of single or joint families and a space for vegetable gardens, a yard for threshing ground and communal activities, a cattle shed, ponds, trees, shrubs, and bamboo (Khaleque 1987; Abedin and Quddus 1990; Haque 1996).
A typical homestead or Bari consists of different sites. Hussain and Miah (2004) have categorized it into five micro-sites: approach road - a passage or gateway leading to the homestead; front yard - the place connected to the approach road or the outer part of the homestead connected with the approach road; home yard - the open place in front of the living room; backyard - the site behind the household or interior place of the homestead; boundary - the borderlines or demarcation lines of a homestead. These micro-sites represent the smallest production units of the home gardens that provide the opportunity to produce diversified products needed for the households for its own consumption and for cash income. However, a homestead may not have all micro-sites and the number of micro-sites usually depends on the size and location of the homestead.
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