Growing up as children, most of our parents had home (backyard) gardens and would usually take us there to weed and prune amongst other farm practices. Mum would usually send us to get her “Nkontomire” from the garden. Our elder brothers would also be asked to get some cassava or harvest plantain for “fufu” or “ampesi”. Food was always natural and fresh.
For some, going to the Farm was fun but for others, going to the farm to apply cow dung and other natural fertilizers was not interesting. Through all these, we learnt firsthand what farming was and how to feed ourselves even if we had no money.
The family time once enjoyed by families in their backyard gardens and major farms, the laughter, the chit chats, the little quarrels by siblings on segregation of duties, cooking on the farm and the family lunch times amongst others are gradually fading out because of modernization.
In recent times, back yard gardening is virtually not visible in most homes because they have been turned into modern backyard patios and other contemporary outdoor designs. For us as Africans, farming is extremely important because apart from its economic benefits, it also bonds the family together and offers the platform for parents to teach their young ones the needed virtues and life nuggets they will need for the future.
Globally, home gardening has been documented as an important supplemental source contributing to food and nutritional security and livelihoods. In fact home gardening (food production on small plots adjacent to human settlements) is the oldest and most enduring form of cultivation.
Global population expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. This makes it imperative for us to continue with diverse efforts that will help increase food production and buffer stocks. For those of us in developing countries where the omnipresence of hunger and food scarcity is more acute, we have no other option than to resort to various counter strategies to meet the growing demand and to avert food insecurity and famine.
It is for this reason that conscious efforts must be made to draw national attention towards home gardens as a strategy to enhance household food security and nutrition. Home gardens are an integral part of local food systems and the agricultural landscape of developing countries all over the world and have endured the test of time.
But how can we change the narrative of farming, seen as an occupation for the old, illiterate and poor?
Perhaps we could engage the youth in a participatory venture to encourage and enlighten them on the prospects, opportunities and benefits of home gardening in particular and farming as a whole. All we need do is to start with a handful of youth on a consistent and persistent training program and in few years, the order will change for the better.
There could be competition to see whose garden is doing well and providing food for the family. This could be a challenge for the entire citizenry with government instituting policies that will encourage backyard gardening. Scholarships could be instituted for the best backyard gardener’s child in a constituency. The ripple effect of this is that food will be cheaper and more affordable, Ghana will no longer be heavily dependent on some food imports and the country will experience astronomical economic growth, amongst other important benefits.
When the child develops an interest in backyard farming, it will definitely be easy to get him into that profession as a professional farmer.
The future is dependent on us to plant and feed ourselves.
- Galhena, D.H., Freed, R. & Maredia, K.M. Home gardens: a promising approach to enhance household food security and wellbeing. Agric & Food Secur 2, 8 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/2048-7010-2-8 .
- Niñez VK: Household gardens: theoretical and policy considerations. Agr Syst. 1987, 23: 167-186. 10.1016/0308-521X(87)90064-3
By Josephine Dake-Abrahams