Urban home gardens in Kumasi metropolis, Ashanti region of Ghana

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Home garden is a ubiquitous farming system found within the compound of individual houses and practised by households in Kumasi metropolis landscape of Ghana. However, very little is known about the home garden system in terms of classification, composition, structure, functions, management practices as well as constraints hindering its development and promotion. This study has put together data on the home gardens to assist in understanding the system and make recommendation for its management. Data was collected using a two-stage sampling procedure involving visual reconnaissance survey and detailed household survey. The reconnaissance survey was carried out to select six residential areas (suburbs) where home gardens were extensively and intensively practised. Eighty households were randomly sampled and selected in the six residential areas and detailed household survey involving direct observation, interviews and administration of questionnaire were employed to collect the data. The questionnaire and interviews were aimed at finding the socio-economic status of households, decision-making on gardening, components of the system, their arrangement and functions. The management practices, benefits to the gardeners, their resource/support services, as well as constraints facing them were also examined. The home gardens surveyed were classified into four types namely: (a) Agrosilvopastoral system, (b) Agrisilvicultural system, (c) Mixed farming, and (d) Agrihorticultural system, based on the presence of the main agroforestry components, structure and their roles. Twenty-two different crops were observed in the study area, with the major ones as: Musa paradisiaca, Zea mays, Manihot esculentum, Dioscorea alata, Solanuin melongena, Capsicum annuum, etc. The animal species encountered were chicken, sheep, goat, duck, turkey, rabbit, bee, guinea fowl and fish as well as about thirty multipurpose trees and shrubs and over thirty-five ornamental plants beautifying the environs. These tree/shrub-crop-animal (bee/fish) components were intensively integrated spatially and/or sequentially on the same land unit of individual houses. Some of the home gardens were bordered by living fence and/or non-living fence. This highly diversified trees/shrubs and crops mixture in the home gardens set-up have organised into three multistorey structure: a ground floor of vegetable and tuberous crops, middle storey consisting of relatively taller food and fruit crops and the upper layer comprising tall fruit trees. The home gardens were managed mostly by respondents and their family labour as well as hired permanent labour. The household labour was the main determinant of production especially in homesteads with large family size and the gardening activities often. done at their leisure hours. Findings revealed that home gardens were primarily embarked on by 86% of the households to reduce expenses on food budget, and 27.5% to earn extra cash from the sale of the garden produce to supplement family’s income, as well as 58% to improve the aesthetics of the homesteads. Households obtained numerous benefits such as food crops, vegetables, fruits, fodder, medicinal products, firewood, honey, spices, meat, eggs and fish which were used for subsistence and/or for sale. Some of these items were distributed to neighbours as gifts which facilitated social ties in the neighbourhood. The major constraints facing gardeners that agroforestry intervention can address were poor soil moisture availability in the dry season, Musa spp. (plantain/banana) lodging, crop damage by stray livestock, declining soil fertility, low livestock and poultry management for the local breeds kept on free-range basis. Inadequate extension education and services to home gardeners hindered effective promotion and development of home gardens. Agroforestry and agricultural interventions recommended to address these constraints are windbreaks, boundary planting, living fence, proper cropping system and management, proper livestock/poultry management and fodder bank. Improved extension education and services to households practising gardening as agroforestry systems will go a long way to encourage more households to manage the system effectively. Other constraints also spelt out by respondents which agroforestry intervention cannot address were insufficient time on households, high water cost/bill charged by Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation and the small size of gardens or plots as well as lack of credit to finance the gardening operations. Home garden when promoted and developed among households in urban areas could lead to the improvement of the standard of living of urban dwellers in Ghana to minimise poverty, malnutrition and create employment for the youth as hired labour who were provided with accommodation, food, clothing and monthly allowance.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Agroforestry, 1995