Sack gardening does not require much space and vegetables can be grown according to demand and taste (New Agriculturist)

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Organic sack gardening in Bangladesh

Living in Vabanipur village in Bangladesh’s Malulavi Bazaar District, Ainob Bibi has struggled to feed her four children. Without land, and living close to Hakaluki Haor – a large wetland area in eastern Bangladesh that is flooded for five to six months of the year – Bibi could not grow vegetables or other crops. After hearing about a new ‘sack gardening’ technology from the NGO Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), Bibi started with five sacks containing green spinach seedlings. After only 20 days she harvested six kilos, harvesting another five kilos a week later. Today she also grows naga chilli, which she can sell. By growing different vegetables, Bibi is able to supply her own family and earn money. As a result, a number of her neighbours have also taken up the practice.

Maximising space

Vegetables are an essential source of nutrition for a sound and healthy body, but in Bangladesh two out of every three children born are underweight due to malnutrition; millions also suffer from night blindness, each year vitamin A deficiency (VAD) affecting 300,000 people. Malnutrition also reduces a person’s ability to do sustained work. In Kenya and Uganda, the French NGO Solidarités developed ‘sack gardening’ where tall, earth-filled sacks sprout kale, spinach, herbs and onions from the tops and sides. In 2010, with help from Solidarités, the ‘garden-in-a-sack’ concept was introduced in Sylhet, Maulvi Bazar, Brahmanbaria and Dhaka districts by FIVDB.

In Bangladesh, most poor people, like Bibi, don’t have enough land to cultivate vegetables conventionally. Sack gardening does not require much space and vegetables can be grown according to demand and taste. The bags are also easy to move, which is important for families living on ‘char’ lands (flood prone areas) and riverbanks, who are often forced to move as villages are inundated.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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