Khondaker Nusrat Sharmin Tumpa, Rural Development and Natural Resource Management – Master’s programme
This thesis paper presents qualitative research to explore women’s contribution to sustainable food systems and security through homestead gardening in rural Bangladesh. In rural Bangladesh, women manage homestead gardening, a traditional and widespread practice of producing different vegetables and rearing domestic animals in a small plot of land beside their house. The products from the homestead garden provide food nutrition for the family and income opportunities for women, which maintain a different form of the food system in the rural area and contribute to food security. However, women’s contribution in this sector is not recognised in the society. Hence, this thesis was conducted in Baneshardi village of Nagarkanda thana in the Faridpur district in Bangladesh to reveal the role and contribution to the sustainable food system and security. The present study was undertaken by conducting 12 in-depth interviews with women managing homestead gardening and 2 Key Informants Interviews with a local government representative and a representative from a civil society organisation. The research indicated that women unintentionally play diverse roles through different activities in homestead gardens in maintaining sustainable local food systems and security. The principal findings of this research expose how through homestead gardening, women are meeting four pillars (Availability, access, utilisation, and stability) of sustainable food security and maintaining an alternative local food system which has the potential of being sustainable. The research also revealed that women’s traditional agricultural knowledge preserves biodiversity passed through generations by mothers. Despite these contributions, the study found that women face different challenges, including gender division of labour concerning women’s identity as farmers and access to the market in which area government and non-government initiatives and actions are required. The research concludes that even though women are doing agricultural activities in the form of homestead gardening and contributing to a sustainable local food system and security, due to the gender division of labour in society, their contribution and recognition as farmers are invisible in society. So, it is significant to address the potentiality of homestead gardening and women's contribution to meeting sustainable local food systems and security.