SLU news

New brief on homegardens in Sri Lanka

Published: 08 June 2017

Homegardens in Sri Lanka are the poor land users’ insurance in times harvest failures. Homegardens are presently going through a transition due to urbanization leading to fragmentation in populated areas.  A new brief from AgriFoSe2030 presents evidence and information on the food security linked to homegardens.

Homegardens are privately owned land areas close to homesteads that are used for multiple benefits; for example, perennial vegetation, cash crops, animal rearing or trees for fruits and timber or fuel used for subsistence farming. The system can be found in many parts of the world under different names.

Agroforestry and other types of multifunctional land-use systems have increasingly been highlighted as a win-win-win solution to meet the challenges of climate change, agricultural intensification, secure ecosystem services as well as support to food security.

Homegardens - a poor person’s safety net

One of the strongest food security evidence found in the literature is that poor people benefit from the products that homegardens provides.

– Homegardens are a traditional agroforestry system that is promoted by the government. In Sri Lanka, more than 13 percent of the land area are homegardens, says Eskil Mattson, one of the authors of the AgriFoSe2030 brief.

Does homegardens provide food security?

In the new AgriFoSe 2030 brief, the authors has examined the literature for evidence and information on the food security link to homegardens. In terms of homegardens and food security, the indirect effects such as adaptation to climate change or a variety of ecosystem services such as increased carbon uptake, better rainfall infiltration capacity and reduced erosion are the most commonly assessed impacts in the literature.

The rural-to-urban transition makes it expensive for remaining rural families to manage remaining gardens due to a lack of labour. The commercial development or market interest such as value addition, certification schemes, or development of marketable goods is lacking within these productive systems which could be a lock-in effect of the systems and their users.

Important with long-term commitments and inclusiveness of stakeholders

– Our policy recommendations suggest a higher degree of inclusiveness of
stakeholders aligned with long-term commitments. In addition, the guidelines should differentiate between dry and wet zones as well as between urban and rural areas, says Madelene Ostwald, theme leader of AgriFoSe2030 Theme 2 "Multifunctional landscapes for increased food security" .

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