They include Bangladesh’s floating gardens, a unique hydroponics production system constructed with natural grasses and plants, which have been developed in flood areas; and a trio of sites in Japan: the sustainable river fisheries utilizing Sato-kawa system in Gifu, the Minabe-Tanabe Ume approach to growing apricots on nutrient-poor slopes in Wakayama; and the Takachihogo-Shiibayama mountainous agriculture and forestry system in Miyazaki which allows agricultural and forestry production in a steep mountainous area.
The sites were officially recognized during a joint meeting of the GIAHS Steering and Scientific Committee at FAO headquarters in Rome.
These new designations bring the number of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) systems to a total of 36 sites located in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, Near East and Asia.
Vertical Gardens Beat Soil Made Salty by Climate Change
Saltwater is shrinking Bangladesh’s arable land, but a simple approach of planting crops in containers shows surprising success
By Amy Yee
The soil in Chandipur village in southwest Bangladesh has become increasingly salty because of incursions of seawater. The situation became particularly acute in the aftermath of Cyclone Aila in 2009, which brought storm surges that broke embankments and flooded farmland. After 2009 vegetable crops planted in the ground there yielded only meager returns—if they didn’t fail completely.
But for the past three years hundreds of villagers have enjoyed the bounty of so-called vertical gardens—essentially crops grown in a variety of containers in backyards and on the rooftops of their humble homes. Despite their modest size, these gardens produce quite a bit.
Working with local nonprofits WorldFish trained about 200 villagers in four districts in saline-affected areas of southwestern Bangladesh to make vertical gardens. Others not in the program have copied their neighbors’ designs after seeing how well they worked. WorldFish plans to expand the program to include 5,000 people over the next two years.
Growing the vertical gardens is a relatively straightforward process. Villagers harvest soil after the rains, around November, and use it later during planting season. They put the soil into containers and mix it with fertilizer made of dried water hyacinth, soil, coconut husks and cow manure. The containers range from plastic rice and concrete sacks to large, specially constructed “towers” made of simple plastic sheets encased by bamboo rings.
To prevent waterlogging, the containers are raised off the ground on bricks and filled with brick chips that improve water circulation and drainage. Small holes are cut into the sides where short-rooted vegetables such as Indian spinach and tomatoes can grow. Long-rooted vegetables such as gourds grow on top. These sacks can produce up to eight kilograms of vegetables in one season with an investment of 100 to 150 taka (about $1.30 to $2) per bag. The tower variety of container measures more than 1.2 meters across and can produce more than 100 kilograms of vegetables. One tower requires an investment of about 900 to 1,000 taka (around $11.50 to $13.00) to buy materials and seeds. WorldFish provides seeds and some materials to villagers in the first year.
A woman in Chandipur village in southwest Bangladesh shows seedlings she grows in pots.(Photo: A. Yee for VOA)
Vertical Gardens Help Bangladesh Farmers Overcome Salty Soil
by Amy Yee
In Bangladesh, more land is becoming salty and unfit for growing crops. It’s a pressing problem in this densely-populated country where most people farm for a living. But even on saline land, villagers can grow bountiful “vertical gardens” from soil flushed by monsoon rains.
In Chandipur village in southwest Bangladesh, lush vines sprouting pumpkins and gourds cover the tin roofs of small homes. This bounty sprouts from an unlikely source: large plastic sacks on the ground and other containers.
Vertical gardening combating salty soil
But for three years, hundreds of villagers have grown “vertical gardens” – essentially vegetables grown from plastic sacks, giant containers made of plastic sheets and bamboo, as well as other receptacles.
Most of Bangladesh is at or below sea level, so the country is highly vulnerable to climate change. Storm surges in coastal areas add to the problem of increasing salinity.
This is a pressing concern for densely populated Bangladesh, which has 156 million people. Vertical gardens are one simple way that people can adapt to climate change and grow food. WorldFish Center, an international non-profit, introduced vertical gardens in Bangladesh.
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