The vision of the National Food Security Act is governed by the objective to ensure that every individual has access to predefined minimum quantities of food required for a health living. While, the act adopts the approach of provision of food grains at subsidized rates to priority households, alternate approaches to food security have been explored under a programme titled ‘Empowering 2000 women and adolescent girls through homestead cultivation in Rapar block of Kutch District’; ‘Self reliant and sustainable development of women and children in rural areas and Training farmers in advanced farming techniques’ and ‘Addressing Household level Food Security issue through Homestead Cultivation and Capacity Building of the tribal community in district Yavatmal of Maharashtra’. The project is supported by United Way – Mumbai and is implemented across three states – Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh (presently Telengana). Here, the potential of homestead gardens in improving nutritional intake and livelihoods of targeted poor and marginal communities, especially women has been explored with vegetable cultivation actively encouraged. Behavioral change of communities on sanitation, health, hygiene and nutritional diets, especially maternal & child health have been unique components of the programme. The target groups specifically targeted include women, pregnant women, children and adolescents.
Homestead gardens are found effective methods to address household level food and nutritional security. Due to their proximity to households, they can be promoted as a channel for improved nutritional intake and livelihoods in poor and marginal communities. With the impact of the project documented in terms of an improvement in production of crops and vegetables, improvements in general health and hygiene of target groups, several of the 6000 beneficiaries have also crossed over from subsistence farming to marketing of surplus produce, expanding the scope of these gardens to include an opportunity for income generation.