A floating garden is built using aquatic weeds as a base on which vegetables can be
grown. This approach can extend the growing capabilities of rural communities where
land would otherwise be unavailable. It is cheap and sustainable.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest countries, criss-crossed by more than 230 of the
world’s most unstable rivers. For poor families living in rural Bangladesh land is a scarce
commodity and people have to make use of whatever space is available. Each year the
situation is exasperated by flooding which restricts the time that crops can be grown. Floods
affect over one million people in the country and more than 100,000 women, men and
children are forced to move as villages and livelihoods are literally washed away. In recent
years flooding has intensified and lasted longer and now the fields can be submerged for far
longer than the traditional two months. During the monsoon season, much of the farm land in
the Gaibandha district is covered by water, making it impossible to grow crops. Even when the
floods recede the land remains waterlogged restricting people’s ability to cultivate vegetables
to feed themselves and to generate an income, particularly when land is flooded and other
cultivation options are unavailable.
Taking practical action
Floating gardens are amongst the many options developed and promoted to address the needs
of poor farmers in Bangladesh combining to make a real difference to production levels in the
Gaibandha district. Training on the construction and use of floating gardens was provided by
Practical Action, formally Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) and Gono
Unnayan Kendro (GUK), a local NGO and have now become popular in the area.
Figure 1: Laying bamboo across the water
hyacinth. Photo credit: Practical Action Bangladesh
Figure 2: Collecting and stacking the
water hyacinth. Photo credit Practical Action
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