Homestead Food Production

The Challenge

  • Two billion people suffer from malnutrition worldwide. As many as one third of the world’s population cannot achieve their physical and intellectual potential due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Three out of four people in developing countries live in rural areas and most of them depend on agriculture as a food source.1
     Smallholder farmers and their families represent one third of the global population.2 Many of these farmers are women who live on less than $2 a day and have limited power to make household financial decisions and limited rights to own land.
     Families with limited means cope by eating cheaper, less nutritious food, which can have catastrophic lifelong effects on the survival and health of children, including stunting (when a child has low height for his/her age), developmental delays and a compromised immune system.
    Three out of four people in developing countries live in rural areas and most of them depend on agriculture as a food source.
  • Smallholder farmers and their families represent one third of the global population. 
  • Many of these farmers are women who live on less than $2 a day and have limited power to make household financial decisions and limited rights to own land.
  • Families with limited means cope by eating cheaper, less nutritious food, which can have catastrophic lifelong effects on the survival and health of children, including stunting (when a child has low height for his/her age), developmental delays and a compromised immune system.

HKI Solutions

Helen Keller International’s Homestead Food Production program is one of a number of strategies deployed by HKI and our partners around the world to give families the nutrients they need to develop healthy, strong bodies and minds. The program has put crops in the ground, nutrients in the diet, and meals on the table in many communities most severely affected by prolonged malnutrition.

  • Through our Homestead Food Production program, HKI helps improve communities’ local food production systems by creating year-round gardens with micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and small farms for raising poultry and livestock.
  • HKI provides technical and managerial support as well as start-up supplies, such as seeds, seedlings, saplings and chicks to local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which integrate Homestead Food Production into their ongoing activities. 
  • The fruits and vegetables from the gardens ensure the availability of vitamins and minerals essential for proper immune system function and full physical, intellectual and cognitive development.
  • The eggs, poultry and other animal foods raised by the gardeners support the body's ability to utilize the micronutrients.
  • The gardens also provide families with income from the sale of surplus goods and increase the technical knowledge and capacity of local NGOs.
  • Homestead Food Production also empowers women, who organize 90% of the gardens; they begin contributing to the economic stability of their families and make sure their children consume the nutritious food they grow.
  • Several areas where Homestead Food Production is practiced also have seen reductions in night blindness and anemia.
  • According to an assessment of the program, families in Bangladesh who participate in Homestead Food Production produced 135 kg of vegetables, three times as much as non-participating households over a three month period.
  • Another analysis demonstrated that the benefits of Homestead Food Production greatly outweighed its costs with an impressive economic rate of return of approximately 160%. 
  • An analysis of a similar program in Cambodia concluded that for every $1 invested in the program participating families produced nutritious food for their own daily consumption and also earned an extra $1.30 from sale of surplus produce.
  • In 2009, our Homestead Food Production program in Bangladesh was selected as a case study for “Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development.” The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) initiated this research project with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.