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From Little Things Big Things Grow

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Parul Begrum should be feeling very pleased with herself. Her humble home garden has created quite a stir in the village of Shikarpur in Bangladesh’s Barisal District, where inspired neighbors are hoping to replicate her success.

Parul was one of 250 women farmers who received training in producing vegetables at home as part of the USAID-funded Horticulture Project, run by the International Potato Center in partnership with the World Vegetable Center. The classes combined information about the nutritional value of eating vege-tables every day with practical demonstrations of modern home gardening techniques. The most valuable lesson, however, was the realization that one small piece of land could meet the nutri-tional requirements of a four- to five-person family, something the women initially thought was impossible.

For Parul, this ambition became a reality in just six weeks. Since planting the seeds, including amaranth, spinach, okra, gourd, beans, and cucumber, Parul has harvested more than 78 kg of vegetables — far exceeding the needs of her five-person family. The surplus has provided a rare opportunity to earn a little extra money to support her family’s needs and even work towards a goal. She has also distributed some of the extra produce as gifts, which has allowed her to share her knowledge about the benefits of eating fresh vegetables with the community.

In Bangladesh, women in female-headed households typically have only one year of education and most have limited knowledge about nutrition and food handling to improve their family’s health. The Horticulture Project is empowering women by providing access to information about growing produce using modern methods and positioning them as the guardians of family nutrition. In just a few months it has boosted discussion about diet and nutrients and motivated many women in the community to start their own vegetable garden.

The Horticulture Project aims to improve nutrition of at least 100,000 poor households in Southern Bangladesh by exploiting the full potential of crops, including vegetables.

The project is conducted by the International Potato Center in partnership with the World Vegetable Center and funded by USAID.

contributed by:
Kellie Roder

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