How people are adapting to climate change and fighting food insecurity
For people who live in areas covered by water during the monsoon season, such as the riverine areas of Bangladesh, it is impossible to grow crops. Practical Action has developed a technology to allow farmers to grow food on flooded land.
The floating garden is a clever solution that employs the use of water hyacinth, which is collected to construct a raft. This is then covered with soil and cow dung, in which vegetables can be planted. A new raft needs to be built every year, but the old one can be used as fertiliser during the dry season.
The rafts, eight metres long and one metre wide, are made from hyacinth which is available for free locally. Soil is put on the surface of the raft and then the seeds planted in the soil. Summer and winter vegetables such as gourd, okra and leafy vegetables are grown.
The floating gardens provide vital food for people even during the annual monga (period of food shortages) and they can also provide an alternative source of income through sale of any surplus in the market. The rafts can be moved from place to place so are also suitable for those that have temporarily or permanently lost their homes and land.
Families are trained in pit cultivation – making 30cm x 30cm holes for planting vegetable seed. Every household has ten pits to grow vegetables and is given ten different high yielding varieties of fast growing vegetable and groundnut seeds.
Training is provided in new techniques to cope with the conditions in order to grow more and better crops throughout the year. People are shown how to protect against plant disease and insect attack using organic control methods (e.g. home made botanical insecticide). Advice is also given in making seed-beds, preparing compost and enriching the sandy soil with compost and manure.
Rahima from Bangladesh
Rahima 31, married to Oziar, lives at Kutir Para, Dokhin Balapara, under Mohishkhocha union, Aditmari in Lalmonirhat district. She is the oldest of 5 children.
Since her childhood, she has experienced inadequate supply of food and clothing as well as poor shelter. This is still the case now at her husband’s house with her one daughter and son. The uncertainty of being able to provide medical care and education for her children is a big scare.
Rahima and her family live in a tiny hut on someone else’s land, in a room which is approximately 300 square feet. She has experienced erosion and displacement twelve times in her life.
Her husband is an agriculture day labourer; he needs to travel to find employment and is away at least five months of the year. He earns Tk. 150-200 per day when he is working in non-local areas.Locally, he earns 100-120 Tk a day, but employment is always scarce and he can sometimes experience periods of unemployment.
Rahima now has a floating garden
“Food and shelter is our big problem, we cook once a day and eat twice. When not able to manage by our own, I used to borrow and beg from others to feed my family”.
“I know how to do it, and I will continue after project withdrawal”
Rahima is very happy with this technology, as it is supplying food on regular basis in the lean period, and has the opportunity to generate other assets through the income from the surplus of the produce. This is the first experience in her life to run this technology.
She harvested 270 kg of kangkon from 7 times of harvest. she also harvested 6 kg of lady’s finger. Among 270 kg of kangkon, 210 kg was sold at Tk 5 per kg and earn Tk. 1050, which helps her family very much in lean period (August-October).
“I cut kangkon not from the base of it and younger branches grows quickly, as a result I have cut it for 7 times has got more leafy vegetables from it”
“I had to purchase 1 Kg of vegetables daily, now I am getting fresh and organic vegetable from my own garden and daily “ It is helping a lot in the lean period.
She spent Tk. 350 for rice; Tk. 150 for spices (salt and oil); and given her husband Tk. 350 leisure at local shop for investing tea and smoking. She has also purchased a duck by Tk. 200 and it is laying eggs.
Produced vegetables were sold in the community, she need not to carry it to the market, as its demand is high to neighbours.
“People and relatives from other areas came and see this, they are interested to do the same and asking help from me for the next season”
“I shall use this decomposed water hyacinth in pumpkin production in this season and I hope to get more pumpkins.” I am impressed to see, how available unused hyacinth can be used for vegetable cultivation.”
“My husband helps me - or not, I will do in 3-4 beds next time and will do 2 months before then this year”
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You can download further information on cultivation from Practical Answers, the technical information service of Practical Action, or you can ask a technical enquiry to the Practical Action staff via the online form.
Floating Gardens in Bangladesh
A floating garden is built using aquatic weeds as a base on which vegetables can be grown.
PowerPoint presentation demonstrating how Practical Action helped communities in Bangladesh build floating gardens to solve the
Case study demonstrating how Practical Action helped communities in Bangladesh build floating gardens to solve the problem of crops getting flooded