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Organic sack gardening – Bangladesh

This project encourages urban Bangladeshis to grow vegetables in tall sacks. “Organic sack gardening” presents many advantages. It can be done with little space and using wastewater, while the method is cheap and allows for year-round cultivation. The initiative improves nutrition and food security in a land fraught with poverty and problems related to climate change.

Fast facts:

  • 500 families practicing organic sack gardening in Sylhet, Bangladesh
  • 8 to 10 sacks can provide a household with a regular supply of vegetables

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The problem

Although vegetables are an important source of nutrition, in Bangladesh only a small segment of the population can afford to buy them. Malnutrition is a serious problem that affects the majority of Bangladeshis from before birth. Furthermore the cities there continue to grow. Bangladesh has one of the highest urban growth rates in the world, with hundreds of thousands leaving overpopulated and poor rural areas to settle in the city.

As climate change sets in, low-lying Bangladesh experiences more intense storms and flooding. Rising sea levels are also decreasing the amount of farmland available. Combined with population growth, climatic changes cause an increasingly precarious situation for food security.

The solution

Organic sack gardening coordinates urban agriculture in the form of sack gardening. Tall sacks are filled with earth and planted with vegetable seeds. With some care, leafy greens, herbs, onions, and other vegetables sprout from the top and sides of the sacks. Households can eat the vegetables, and even sell them at the local market for extra income.

Sack gardening is low-cost and doesn’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Organic urban waste can be converted into compost to be used in sack gardening, while greywater from washing for example, can be used to irrigate the sacks. Organic sack gardening can be done without much land, on rooftops and balconies.

Helping the planet

Recycling urban organic trash and water comprises a form of permaculture that reduces waste and resource use within the city. Utilizing the space and recycling resources there means less pressure on dwindling farmlands outside the city. The gardening doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides, which leads to less water and land pollution.

Helping people

Households benefit from better nutrition and possible supplemental income. Women in particular are empowered, as they are the ones carrying out the gardening. The project increases overall food security and allows for communities to adapt to the bottleneck of increasing population and climatic changes reducing the available farmland. The gardening sacks can even be transferred from one location to another. This is a convenient situation for a country with an increasing numbers of climate refugees.

Spillover effect

The project experienced initial success in Kenya and Uganda. Its replication here shows its capacity for growth. The technology is disseminated via farmer-to-farmer visits, publicity materials, and mass media. The practice is even spreading spontaneously from neighbor to neighbor, as community members see how cheap, simple, and rewarding it can be.





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