Practical Action has developed a technology to allow farmers of Bangladesh to grow food on flooded land. The rafts, 8 metres long and 1 metre wide, are made from hyacinth which is available for free locally. Soil is put on the surface of the raft and then the seeds planted in the soil. Summer and winter vegetables such as gourd, okra and leafy vegetables are grown.
The floating gardens provide vital food for people even during the annual monga (period of food shortages) and they can also provide an alternative source of income through sale of any surplus in the market. The rafts can be moved from place to place so are also suitable for those that have temporarily or permanently lost their homes and land.
Families are trained in pit cultivation – making 30cm x 30cm holes for planting vegetable seed. Every household has ten pits to grow vegetables and is given ten different high yielding varieties of fast growing vegetable and groundnut seeds.
Training is provided in new techniques to cope with the conditions in order to grow more and better crops throughout the year. People are shown how to protect against plant disease and insect attack using organic control methods (e.g. home made botanical insecticide). Advice is also given in making seed-beds, preparing compost and enriching the sandy soil with compost and manure.