Opportunities for Permaculture in the Rural Homes of Bangladesh

Permaculture is a widely used termed by the modern world. Permaculture means permanent culture especially, cropping without disturbing or damaging the natural habitat and biodiversity. It is the practice for growing crops with little on no disturbance of the soil and landscape by little or no tillage practice. It is also called as sustainable agriculture, organic farming, and very recently Climate-smart agriculture.
Permaculture considers soil and biodiversity conservation, optimum use of water and its conservation, wind and storm protection, nutrient and short-cycled biomass recycling, multiple and multistory cropping culture for maximum land and productivity. It also considers “right crop at right place in right time”. For choosing the crop, land should dictate the crop but not by the crop. Possibly, Permaculture is the modern version of our early twentieth century’s homestead farming.

Before 1980’s, Bangladesh and eastern Indian region was very rich in Permaculture especially in the homesteads. Still, the rural homes are rich with homestead farming. Every home is considered as an eco-niche; provides shelter for family members and domestics, vegetations for food, fodder, shade, fuel, fence, medicine, beautification etc., and also shelterbelts to protect the storms and winds. A model rural home is designed in a much planned way with provision for aeration, light penetration, and ensures recycling of the refuses. Traditional homestead farming uses wide range of species; is the unique example for biodiversity conservation and maximizes productivity and ensures maximum uses of land and space. These practices were derived from indigenous and traditional knowledge and wisdom after long days’ trial and error. The present “One Home and One Farm” concept has been discussed in my book “Plantation Crop and Organic Farming” Research Article Series 1, in the topic “Model Rural Homestead Farming”- A Real Example of Crop Diversification, in January 2004.

Traditionally people used to design a home facing south or east, a pond in the east, bamboos and forest groves in the north and in the south sun loving small plants: vegetables and fruits and spices etc. Coconut and areca nut are used to grown near the water sources. Considering the healthy environment and eco-friendly habitat, fruit and multipurpose tree crops viz. mango, jackfruit, black berry, litchi, Palmyra palm, Hog plant, Drumstick and Neem etc. are grown maintaining proper spacing. Many creepers and climbers for seasonal vegetables and spices; corms and arums, are the important homestead crops. However, now-a-days many people have started to grow some exotic trees tike Rain tree, Mahogany, Acacia, Epil-epil and Eucalyptus etc., influenced by some so-called experts’ propaganda “Plant tree and save the environment”, in their homesteads although these plants are not suitable for growing in the homesteads. These plants do not allow good undergrowth, affects surrounding area giving shade or withdrawing huge soil nutrients and water, and some invite wildfires and cause more damages during storms and cyclones. Their leaves are not readily decomposable even sometimes take more than 2 years for decomposition.

However, a home is a great source of livelihood materials, a nice place for exchanging and recycling ingredients, option and origin for organic farming and activity spot for direct participation by all family members without limiting by time period. Home gardening in participation with women utilizing their knowledge of crops, soil, water management, medicinal plants, growing techniques, daily management of natural resources representing the most complex agrosilvipastoral systems which should be recognized for conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, resource management and production. Therefore, the productivity and importance of homestead vegetation and crop is significantly higher than any other high-tech cropping culture. Indigenous cultures, practices and wide range uses of hundreds of species in a limited space widened the implication of biodiversity. It is advised that, without knowing the habit and habitats of plants and animals and their ecological impacts, the expert or policy makers should not misguide and influence the simple villagers to adopt a harmful and bad practice for short-term benefit.

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Director, CGEC International University of Business Agriculture and Technology Bangladesh

2 thoughts on “Opportunities for Permaculture in the Rural Homes of Bangladesh

  1. An absolute imperative if we are going to establish food security –we must devote all public land towards perennial food trees/food forests and every home, roof top, and appropriate surface must be devoted to food gardens by law! All of those things are easy; we can do it, no problem. The questions arise are about the people systems, management systems, power structures, distribution and so on; those are the hard questions that we need to solve. Personally, I don’t believe any centralized, hierarchical power structure can manage such systems. It has to be small scale, local, community managed.

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