Nutritional and Health Security Through Integrated Gardens for Women’s Empowerment: the CIKS experience

Kalyanasundaram Vijayalakshmi, R. Abarna Thooyavathy


Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS), a non-profit organization based in Tamil Nadu, is working towards enhancing the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers through sustainable organic agriculture. During a survey to collect and document indigenous varieties, CIKS realized that the concept of maintaining backyard gardens by rural women - which contributed to the household supply of vegetables - was fast vanishing. Introduction of high yielding varieties, their prohibitive costs and problems with chemical cultivation as well as low or poor germination were the main causes. The non availability of vegetables was also leading to malnutrition mainly amongst women and children. CIKS made an intervention at this point and revived the backyard gardens by involving women’s self-help groups. An integrated garden, which had both vegetables and common herbs, was promoted through training and exposure. This has resulted in nutritional security, seed security, health security - by reducing medical costs for common ailments -, women’s empowerment and also additional income for women. They have also developed planning, problem-solving and management skills. 


food security; nutrition; health security; integrated gardens; India; women farmers; women's empowerment; self-help groups

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