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Home Gardens: An Integrated Approach to Land Management

The home-garden is one of the land management system in which the land is deliberately put under different agroforestry practices. This system is successfully practiced in different states.

KJ Staff
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The Home-Garden is one of the land management systems in which the land is deliberately put under different agroforestry practices. This system is successfully practiced in different states. Different regions of Jharkhand, Orissa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and North-Eastern states, have successfully implemented this form of land management. The small marginal lands are put under agriculture and other forms of production are also integrated to get more and more production. This system of land management fetches a quite good production even in degraded lands, unproductive, undulating lands which are difficult to cultivate. 

The home-gardens comprises of agriculture, animal-husbandry, silviculture, forestry component as an integral part of this system. The system has promising output in those areas which are difficult to put under mono-culture. 

In Kerala, the home-garden system of agroforestry has been practiced since time immemorial. These are traditionally known as sacred forests of Kavus. The species diversity in these forests is enormous. The household live within the farm and this system is self-sustained as they do not require to buy the agricultural produce from outside the farm. They grow rice (Paddy), vegetables medicinal and herbal crops, aroma-therapy crops, fragrant flowers, produce milk by rearing cows, rearing chicken and pigs on the same piece of land. Thus, these small marginal lands are self-sufficient in terms of production as well as they sell the produce in the local market to get financial returns. 

Some important species that have been grown in the home-gardens of Kerala: 

  • Rice

  • Tuber crops 

  • Tectona grandis  

  • Jasminum officinale

  • Aegle marmelos

  • Syzygiumcuminii 

  • Syzygiumaromaticum 

  • Terminalia arjuna 

  • Terminalia alata 

  • Terminalia chebula

  • Terminalia bellirica

  • Piper longum

  • Mentha piperata

  • Mentha arvensis

  • Rauvolfiaserpentina 

  • Chlorophytumtuberosum 

In Jharkhand, this system is practiced in a slightly different manner. In the state like Jharkhand, many of the people live below the poverty line. The agrarian society is totally dependent on subsistence form of farming for the production. They grow tuber crops traditionally to combat malnutrition. Other crops include legume crops, herbs, and medicinal plants. In Jharkhand horticultural crops also provide good production and fetch a good amount of money for the farmers even in degraded and nutritionally deprive lands of Chhota Nagpur plateau. 

Some of the crops with good cash returns are oranges, Black Pepper, tea, small plantation of Anacardium occidentale (Cashew). 

The political scenario in the state of Orissa plays an important role in management of land owned by tribals that is put under this agroforestry system. The landowners have stimulated the agitation against the mining mafias. Many incidents took place in different parts of Orissa where tribal leaders protest against the land grabbers and mining companies because they fear of losing their precious land which is the only asset for them to survive. 

In Rajasthan where people predominantly depend on agriculture enormous land is undermining provide monetary benefits to the mining companies and big investors. The land is put undermining for different valuable resources exploited heavily without considering the sustainability of natural resources. During mining operations, the air quality becomes badly affected. In some places, the PM 2.5 and PM10 level has crossed the dangerous level also affect agricultural production. The data of the pollution is not monitored at distant places severely affects the health of farmers and mine workers. Multiple numbers of cases of cancer have been reported from these areas but did not yet find linkages between the environment and such diseases. The severity of the problem is so acute that sometimes poor farmers do not have enough money to treat the disease or ailments. 

Socio-Economic aspect of eco-friendly lifestyle in home-gardens 

The eco-friendly lifestyle of the people of Rajasthan makes them more prosperous than other people and communities. The women in these home-gardens or dhanis rear cows, fetch water work for agriculture which is mostly rain-fed. They grow millets which consume very less water, conserve trees of Prosopis cineraria on these smallholdings They are totally bound with eco- principles. They do not cut or prune trees, conserve and protect wildlife as their children. This eco-friendly life-style of these forest farm dwellers makes them different from other communities and they are considered to be more prosperous. 

Eventually, the conclusion is that every stake-holder who is engaged in this system/form of agriculture is benefitted. Without following the eco-principles this is quiet impossible to get maximum benefit without deteriorating the natural resources. The land resource is under stress and deteriorating every day. Once the fertility of the land dwindle it is impossible to grow and put it under agriculture further. The only way to overcome this situation is an integrated land management system and home-garden one such example where the production is maintained without ameliorating the natural resources and getting more production to feed future generations. 

Author - Pankaj Kumar

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