Factors that Influence Food Security in Nicaragua and the Role of Home Gardening in Reducing Food Insecurity and Improving Income
Joel Tumwebaze1*, Mary Katherine BT2, Joseph JM3 and Onikia NB1
1Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitability Management, Auburn University, USA
2Department of Global Education, Auburn University, USA
3Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University, USA
Submission: April 10, 2018;Published: May 31, 2018
*Corresponding author: Joel Tumwebaze, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitability Management, Auburn University, Auburn, USA,
How to cite this article: Joel T, Mary KBT, Joseph JM, Onikia NB. Factors that Influence Food Security in Nicaragua and the Role of Home Gardening in Reducing Food Insecurity and Improving Income. Nutri Food Sci Int J. 2018; 6(5): 555697. DOI: 10.19080/NFSIJ.2018.06.555697.
Food insecurity and malnutrition are widely recognized as global issues that require immediate attention using multifaceted approaches.
In 2015, the Food and Agricultural Organization reported that in the last quarter of the century, undernourishment in the developing world
reduced by more than half to an average of 12%. Despite several interventions, United Nations Children's Fund reports that some countries still
have high rates of chronic malnutrition. Nicaragua, for example, had a chronic malnutrition rate of 22% in 2013. Home gardening is a system of
crop and animal husbandry on small plots of land within the vicinity of human dwelling practiced majorly to improve household food security
and income. The purpose of this paper is to assess the major factors affecting food insecurity in developing countries with specific emphasis to
Nicaragua. The role of home gardening in improving food security of developing countries is approached through studies from India, Bangladesh,
Nicaragua, Senegal, Mexico and South Africa. Overall, this literature finds positive impacts of home gardening towards reducing food insecurity
while providing opportunities for improvement of income and quality of life. In conclusion, community gardening requires limited inputs and
can be a useful tool in reducing food insecurity if barriers are addressed.
Keywords: Home gardening; Food security; Constraint; Developing countries; Agriculture; Economic access; Safety of food; Nicaragua
Globally, there was a general declining trend in food
insecurity from 18.6% (1011 million) in 1990 to 10.9% (795
million) in 2014 . Food security entails aspects of economic
access and safety of food . Chronic malnutrition which is
defined as long-term nutrient deprivation is a major indicator
of food insecurity . The global decline in chronic food
insecurity (prevalence of undernourishment) is majorly due
to a decline in global poverty . However, with declines in
poverty coupled with declines in chronic malnutrition Sub-
Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America still showed
higher levels of undernourishment in 2015 . More to that,
projections by the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations show that 637 million people will be
undernourished in 2030 hence falling short of achieving zero
hunger by 2030 .
The increase in chronic food insecurity translates into
chronic malnutrition and is due to increased conflicts,
climate-related shocks and economic slowdown that have led
to difficulty in implementing strategies to protect vulnerable
populations [1,6]. Home gardening is seen as a necessary tool to
avert food insecurity given that it increases the availability of
food and improves diet diversity. Additionally, home gardening
improves income, enhances rural employment by encouraging
off-season production and decreases agricultural production
risks through diversification .
Nicaragua is a country in Central America that has recorded
a reduction in poverty levels over years but has persistently
high levels of undernourishment [8,9]. The objectives of this
paper are therefore, to define the major factors that influence
food security in Nicaragua and to examine the role of home
gardening in improving food security as well as constraints to
successful adoption of home gardening.
Poverty is defined in absolute, relative and social subjective
terms . The concept of absolute poverty is more applicable
to developing countries and relates to having an income level
that falls below some minimum (poverty line) necessary to
meet basic needs [10,11]. Relative poverty is defined based on
the overall distribution of income in a country set as a share of
the country’s mean income whereas subjective poverty is based
on what people perceive as the minimum income that a person,
or household needs in a specific society not to be considered
poor [10,11]. Researchers have concluded that poverty in
rural households is a key contributor to the household’s food
insecurity and thus of malnutrition [12-14].
Nicaragua is a developing country with reported poverty,
food insecurity and malnutrition issues. Even though it is the
second poorest country in the western hemisphere [15,16],
Nicaragua has seen poverty levels drop from 42.5% to 24.9%
between 2009 and 2016and extreme poverty has dropped to
below 15% [16,17]. As a result, there has been a decline in food
insecurity leading to a decrease in undernourishment from
55.1% to 20.1% between 1990 and 2010 [18,19] and to 16.6%
in 2016 .
Among other reasons, the decline in undernourishment is
due to expansion of several government assistance programs
especially in rural areas of the Caribbean Coast [21,22].
However, around 2.4 million Nicaraguans still live below the
poverty line with some 83,000 living in extreme poverty .
Even in one country, extreme poverty differs between urban
and rural areas and is defined as living on less than $1.90 per
person per day .
Close to half of Nicaragua’s population lives in rural areas
[24,25]. According to Harvey, rural poverty rates are three
times higher than the 14.8% in urban areas; 70% of the poor
live in rural areas . In rural areas, one in six households is
extremely poor compared with one in twenty for urban areas.
Poverty is more severe in central Nicaragua and the
Caribbean coast, despite their high potential of agriculture
and forest activities [27,22]. As a sum up, in 2016 Nicaragua
had a Global Food Security Index score of 50 out of 100 and
is ranked number 72 out of 113 countries based on food
security. More to that, in 2016 Nicaragua had an absolute
poverty level of 24.9% and an undernourishment rate of 16.6%
[9,16,17,19,28]. These statistics are reflective of high values
of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition when compared
with other countries.
Formal education is one of the main determinants of an
individual’s income and a key factor for achieving economic
and social opportunities [29-31]. Adult specific informal
education services such as Agricultural Extension can increase
food security through the transfer of skills and behaviors
. According to 2014 statistics by the Education and Policy
Development Center, 37% of 15-24 year olds in Nicaragua did
not complete primary education. The same statistics showed
that approximately 21% of boys and 15% of girls of primary
school age did not attend school. Nearly 39% of female youth
and 47% of male youth of secondary school ages are held out of
school in Nicaragua .
Mothers in Nicaragua with a secondary education had 47%
lower odds of moderate/severe household food insecurity
as compared to households with lower maternal education
. Higher maternal education was associated with lower
food insecurity in Honduras , Bangladesh , and in
Mozambique . Access to education and having a higher
education beyond elementary school was reported as a key
determinant of food security [37-41].
The connection between higher education status
and improved food security may be because educated
individuals often possess more assets and have access to
better infrastructure thus providing opportunities for
non-agricultural employment and reducing dependence on
agricultural sources of income . Having access to education
positively correlated with having fewer children where women
with higher education levels had an average of two children
compared to six children in rural uneducated women.
Unemployment is positively associated with food
insecurity [42-44], it leads to a decline in living wage and hence
increasing the risk of food insecurity . The unemployment
rate in Nicaragua fell from 8.2% in 2009 to 5.3% in 2013 but
again rose to 5.9% in 2016. The total unemployment rate for
Nicaragua in 2016 was below the world average of 5.7% .
Agriculture has been the main source of job creation, helping
to stabilize Nicaragua’s employment rate. Rural households
earn 60% of their income from agriculture, 27% from nonfarm
activities and 13% from transfers. However, agricultural jobs
are mainly informal, low skilled and low income .
Despite improvement in primary education completion
rates, attainment of labor skills remains the major reason for
unemployment . Nicaragua presents the lowest minimum
wage in Central America with all sectors having an hourly
minimum wage below U.S. $2 per hour. This is one of the
reasons that 29.6% of the population that lives in poverty and
8.3% in extreme poverty .
Men and women are recruited for low wage jobs in local
agro-industries, road and house construction sites as well
as ago-cultural farms hence having low monthly income
. Some small scale farmers have resorted to migrating to
neighboring countries like Costa Rica and el Salvador during
harvesting seasons in order to obtain money for sowing, however new regulations in America are impeding this coping
strategy . To seek income, migrants either work within
their countries or migrate to other countries, work and send
remittances to their families [49,51,52].
Hanifan defined social capital as good will, fellowship,
mutual sympathy, and social interaction among individuals
in a social unit . Stronger social networks and higher
levels of social capital are consistently associated with better
health and community well-being [54,55]. Nicaragua was
found to have a low social capital in terms of net percent trust
and community participation scale compared to other Latin
American Countries . Social networks and social capital
can provide the food insecure with private transfers in times
of need that may decrease the severity of food insecurity
Social capital was found to be helpful in promoting sack
gardening in the Kibera slum of Kenya. This was helpful
especially in attainment of seeds, shared space for placing the
sacks, topsoil and sharing of the produce .
Social capital improves food security by enhancing unity
of group members, access to information from external
institutions and observance of group norms. For social
capital to be effective in improving food security, it should
be accompanied by human capital enhancement . The
low social capital of Nicaragua compared to other countries
in Latin America may indicate lesser social interaction, a
quality that could be a good coping strategy in food insecurity
The Nicaragua law on food and nutritional sovereignty
and security was adopted in 2009  to replace the unmet
initiatives for food security policy made in the late 1990s
and early 2000s . Past policies favored privatization of
natural resources and deregulating markets in favor of large
agribusiness companies hence dismantling programs that
benefited small-scale farmers . Under the food sovereignty
law of 2009, local governments, civil society, farmer and
peasant organizations liaise to promote the development
and adoption of food security policies with emphasis on food
sovereignty . The law is in agreement with international
laws on human rights to food [63-66]. Agro-export industry
and trade agreements are discussed here as the major policies
that affect food security in Nicaragua.
Agro-export industry: In 2017, Nicaragua’s exports were
higher than its imports, creating a negative trade balance .
Due to support from the government and from policymakers
, growth in agricultural exports is significantly higher
than growth in food production . Unlike agro exports that
are produced by large-scale farmers, smallholder farmers,
who are the poorest in the region, handle more than 75% of
domestic food production . Domestic food production is
therefore unable to meet household food demands shifting
consumption patterns towards imported foods . It is
therefore not surprising that Nicaragua imports a third of its
grains for domestic consumption .
Trade agreements: All United States consumer and
industrial exports enter Nicaragua duty free with tariffs on
U.S. agricultural products expected to be phased out by 2024
. Nicaragua signed free trade agreements with Mexico in
1998, Chile in 2011, Panama in 2009, Dominican Republic in
2002, Taiwan in 1967 and the European Union in 2010 .
Nicaragua has the second lowest GDP per capita in the western
hemisphere after Haiti, which translates into having one of the
lowest level of exports .
Nicaragua is among the countries in Latin America with
least exports to the European Union , United States, Asia
and to China . Between 1992 and 2017, Nicaragua had
a negative trade balance indicating that Nicaragua is not
maximizing benefits from the free trade agreements .
This is heightened by the fact that after 1990, price controls
set by the Sandinista government of Nicaragua as a measure
to reduce macroeconomic imbalances were eliminated .
This left Nicaragua with no direct public intervention for
Due to globalization and trade liberalization, nontraditional
crops like flowers and soya beans have become
profitable but peasant farmers lack capital, technical skills,
and access to infrastructure to compete in the export market.
Therefore, peasant farmers cannot compete with cheap
imports driven by free trade agreements .
Under the Food for Progress initiative, U.S. agricultural
commodities are donated to Nicaragua and sold on local market
. This may indirectly compete with local Nicaraguan
produce for market. This policy along with support to the agroexport
industry may be responsible for the severe decline in
prices for traditional locally produced staple foods. The decline
in market prices may lead to lower income and higher inputs
hence forcing peasant farmers to abandon food production.
The global climate risk index shows that Honduras,
Myanmar and Nicaragua experienced the greatest effects of
climate change from 1992 through 2011 . Climate change
has an impact on agriculture [81-84]. Due to its geographical
location in the inter-tropical convergence zone, one sixth
of Nicaragua’s surface is in zones with high or very high
sensitivity to climate events [85-86]. The Northern Caribbean
coast is the highest risk area to climate events, with gradual
decrease in risk towards the south .
Impacts of climate change are of utmost importance to
Nicaragua because its economy largely depends on agriculture,
cattle raising and fishing; all of which are highly sensitive to
climatic conditions. Nicaragua has taken shocks from major
climatic events including Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the 1972
earthquake in the capital Managua, landslides, and volcanic
Hurricane Mitch of October 1998 created significant
flooding and mudslides that were responsible for a loss
30% of the coffee crop in Nicaragua . Projection show
that between 2020 and 2050 Nicaragua will have average
temperature increase of between 1 °C and 2 °C and between 3
°C and 4 °C by the end of this century. This will be accompanied
by a reduction in precipitation at the national level and a
slight increase in the Pacific region [85,90]. The dry corridor
of Central America of which 20% belongs to Nicaragua is
predicted to experience severe drought conditions .
Climatic events were responsible for annual economic losses of
1.89% in GDP between 1990 and 2012 . Predicted climate
events will affect food security, jobs, economy, social structure
and overall development .
There was a decline in global food insecurity from 2005 to
2015  attributed to numerous multidisciplinary strategies
aimed at reducing hunger [91-95]. However, the increase in
the world’s population and driving forces that accompany it
pose a threat to the success of current food security strategies
necessitating new or improved strategies to combat hunger
Even with the decline in food insecurity between 2005
and 2015, one in seven people were still food insecure .
With declining arable land  and a predicted decline in
precipitation [99-101] the currently employed food security
strategies should be rethought. Strategies aimed at improving
food security may be applied to both developing and developed
societies depending on the existing social, political and
economic resources available to design and implement the
Home gardening also referred to as backyard gardening is
a food security strategy that has been promoted for decades in
urban, rural, developed and developing communities [102-103].
Usually home gardening projects start with a demonstration
community garden followed by skill transfer to backyard/
Home gardens are usually small portions of cultivated land
within walking distance from homes planted with mixed crops
and some livestock with an aim of providing supplemental
food and income . Ninez describes home gardens as smallscale
production systems that are located near dwellings and
have a primary purpose of supplying both plant and animal
items that would not otherwise be obtained, affordable or
readily available from local markets, field cultivation, hunting,
gathering or fishing . Home gardens employ family labor,
low capital investment and simple technologies .
The following section reviews published literature on the
role of home gardening projects in reducing food insecurity
and increasing household income. In this section nutrition
and income benefits as well as constraints to successful
implementation of home gardens are discussed. A Google
Scholar search was done with search terms of “Economic
and nutritional importance of home gardening, community
gardening, backyard gardening in developing countries.”
This search yielded over 10,000 results which were filtered
to include only studies involving more than one garden, and
that included evaluation aspects. Studies were limited to just
one per country based upon sample size leading to a result of
six different studies in six different countries to include India,
Senegal, Bangladesh, Mexico, Nicaragua and South Africa.
A cross sectional study in Andaman and Nicobar islands
of India was conducted to determine species diversity and
productivity using a sample of 430 home gardens .
Andaman and Nicobar islands have limited opportunities for
employment due to lack of industries and factories.
Plant diversity: Subsistence as well as commercial
farming characterized home gardening.
The planted species in Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ home
gardens included vegetables, fruit trees, palms, spice trees and
agro-forestry trees. This diversity of crops grown in home
gardens was reported by others [107-110] and may be tied to
economic status of garden owners . The variety of plants
in home gardens is advantageous in maintaining plant genetic
resources [112-114]. In most households, the variety of species
in home gardens is determined by the household’s capacity to
obtain social capital and planting material .
Labor and input supply: In terms of labor, home gardens
in Andaman and Nicobar frequently employed family labor
with designated gender roles. Use of family labor is indicative
of limited capital investment and small size of home gardens.
Although generally limited, mechanization and hired labor
were employed especially during tilling and in some cases,
draft animal powers were used. Maroyi reported the frequent
use of family labor and limited use of machinery and hired
labor in his study on characteristics of home gardens in
In home gardens of Andaman and Nicobar, farmers did not
apply pesticides to control diseases but used biological control
measures where pheromones traps were applied around the garden.
Rice was cultivated without use weeding or use of
insecticides but vegetable gardens required both weeding and
insecticide application. The Andaman and Nicobar islands are
endowed with plenty of rainfall distributed over nine months
but home gardeners lacked knowledge to utilize rainwater
Gender roles in home gardening: Even though women
play a vital role in providing food for most households, their
involvement in home gardening is determined by sociocultural
norms . In some cultures of rural Russia, Senegal
and Latin America, women were reported as sole caretakers
for home gardens [115-117]. On the other hand, women were
reported to play only supportive roles at certain stages of plant
production in home gardens .
Food and income benefits: More than 70% of the
vegetable, rice and fruit yields from home
gardens in Nicobar and Andaman islands were sold in
the market leaving the remainder as food for household
consumption. Some produce especially coconut kernels
were fed to pigs, which in turn were not sold but distributed
to neighbors. Researchers reported several uses of home
gardening to include source of fresh food, reduction in food
budget, hobby and relief of emotional stress . Reyes-
Garcia et al.  reported practicing home gardening for
reasons other than economic benefits .
The average monthly commercial yield from all home
gardening components in this Indian study was estimated to be
over US $2,000. Other economic benefits from home gardening
were reported by other researchers to include; promotion
of entrepreneurship and rural development [112,121], sale
of produce, development of small cottage industries ,
the purchase of additional food items, as well as savings for
education and other services .
Major constraints to gardening in Andaman and Nicobar
islands were ineffective use of rainwater and absence of
mechanization, which were thought to limit production. These
challenges are different from those reported in other studies,
which included limited extension services, limited finance and
credit facilities, lack of adequate water, cultural barriers and
lack inadequate labor [104,118,123].
In Senegal, researchers determined the impact of
community gardening on health and food security by
comparing longitudinal data between a baseline survey done
in 1970 and four post gardening surveys in 1980 . Cross
sectional data was compared among the four surveys done in
1980s. Families surveyed in the 1980’s were different from
those surveyed in 1970s hence there were no paired t-tests for
Food and income benefit: Food frequency data showed
that nutrient intakes of iron, retinol activity equivalents,
calcium and ascorbic acid did not differ between the two-time
periods. Income from vegetable sales during the dry season
supplemented income obtained from the sale of main crops in
the normal farming wet season. Income from vegetable sales
was more helpful in case of bad harvests from main crops due
to inadequate rainfall. In Navajo, residents reported positive
economic savings from home gardens by not spending money
to purchase vegetables in the markets . In other studies,
researchers reported absence of evidence for home gardens
to significantly improve nutrient intake [126,127]. Galhena et
al.  & Lombard  acknowledged that selling excess
produce to farmers markets could supplement income for
progressive individuals. Unlike income from main crops
that is budgeted by men, women kept profits from vegetable
sales [102,128]. This raised purchasing power for the women
enabling them to better cater for basic needs in the family.
Marek et al.  explained that family income might
indirectly affect health and nutritional status through
improving education attainment, raising cognitive
performance and improving environment sanitation and
personal hygiene .
Participants from home gardening households consumed
more vegetables than those from non-home gardening
households indicating a possibility of having better health
[130-131]. Toher researchers reported increased consumption
of vegetables and general diet diversity due to home gardening
In response to high rates of night blindness in Bangladesh,
Helen Keller International (HKI) initiated a pilot gardening
project in conjunction with nutrition education [133-134].
The aim of the HKI project was to increase the number of
households that sustainably produced dark green leafy
vegetables and fruits throughout the year and to increase the
variety and consumption of vitamin A rich foods.
Collaborating gardening projects with existing local
programs: During program implementation, HKI constantly
reviewed ongoing gardening programs in Bangladesh to
learn from others’ experiences. The HKI project was elected
in partnership with local NGOs as a means of collaborating
the gardening project to ongoing developmental activities.
Creating partnerships with local NGO’s is necessary because
the various causes of malnutrition are linked and local NGOs
are already involved in the community and may already have a
good understanding of the target community. This partnership
may also be necessary to avoid replication of studies. In most
cases, Local NGOs have established infrastructure within the
community a factor necessary for scale up. Linkage with already established NGOs also ensures that the target community
has access to multiple developmental services and that the
program can be sustained after HKI terminates its services.
FAO states that institutionalization of gardening projects is
key to sustainability. Sustainability implies independence from
long-term external inputs and participation of all stakeholders
Benefits of home gardening in bangladesh: After a year
of implementing home gardens in
Bangladesh, HKI reported an increase in percentage of
households who practiced year-round gardening of multiple
vegetable varieties on fixed plots from 3% to 33%. HKI reported
a decrease in households without a garden from 25% to 2%.
Production of a variety of vegetables and Consumption of betacarotene
rich foods increased significantly in households that
practiced improved home gardening. An increase in vegetable
consumption among children and adults in a community-based
participatory gardening study was reported . Households
that participated in improved gardening saw a rise in income
from sale of garden produce that was used primarily for
purchase of food with the remaining profits being used for
developmental activities .
Constraints realized in the HKI project: Even though
the HKI project realized several benefits, households needed a
regular supply of quality seeds and inputs to sustain a change
in gardening practices. The HKI project reported poor soil
fertility, inadequate fencing, and poor irrigation infrastructure
were additional constraints to sustained home gardening.
Even though the community-based participatory research by
Carney et al.  reported improved food security, health
and economic benefits, it had challenges comparable to
those reported in this HKI project and by other researchers
The nutritional benefits of home gardening in the HKI study
were limited by cultural beliefs about child feeding and intake
of certain foods during pregnancy. This is different from a
study done in Nepal where Jones et al.  reported a cultural
practice where women showed an increase in consumption of
special foods during pregnancy .
In Nicaragua, a research study was done to determine
the extent to which home gardens could effectively lead to
food sovereignty and why farmers resist changing their food
consumption strategies to embrace biodiverse home gardens
. This study was done through in-depth interviews across
four cooperative societies including sixteen men and eight
women in Estelli and Somoto municipalities of Northern
Nicaragua. In addition, researchers interviewed the project
management team members as key informants to prove
responses from participants.
Benefits and constraints to home gardening in
nicaragua: Results showed that 90% of farmers perceived
home gardens as contributing to diversified and healthy diets
while offering an opportunity to save money by not purchasing
food from local supermarkets . Likewise, Arimond et
al.  reported increasing food availability and access
through production for household consumption as one of the
major pathways by which agricultural interventions influence
nutrition . Farmers in this Nicaragua study reported that
the cost of raw materials and amount of labor discouraged
them from engaging in home gardening. Other farmers in the
same study reported that it was cheaper to plant more coffee,
sell to the international market, and in turn purchase goods
from the local market .
This same situation in another review . The high
cost of inputs, the needs to construct fences and unreliable
rainfall especially in the dry season were perceived as the
major constraints to home gardening in this Nicaragua
study. Lack of sufficient/appropriate land near the home was
also perceived to hinder gardening. The authors reported
that farmers perceived the cost of materials outweighed the
benefits from home gardens. In this coffee farming community,
95% of respondents who engaged in subsistence growing of
crops such as corn and beans depended on international sale of
coffee to buy seed and other materials. However, respondents
explained that the sale price for vegetables in the markets
was low yet transport costs to the markets were high making
the sale of vegetables unprofitable. Other farmers explained
that they lacked experience growing vegetables and that it
would require them to re- prioritize their labor and economic
investments to accommodate home gardens. The costs of seed
saving and storage techniques as well as food preservation
technologies were a hindrance to successful home gardening.
Using semi structured interviews and participant
observations, a study in Mexico aimed at identifying the
principal factors that defined the type, number and performance
production of home gardens in a Mayan community in the
state of Yucatan . In this Mayan study, 31 home gardens
were assessed through cash flows and production cost ratios.
Ninety per cent of households reported keeping a home garden
primarily for economic reasons and because they enjoyed
exchanging products with other members of the village.
Residents established home gardens for sharing produce
with neighbors, relatives and community members .
In descending order, respondents in this Mayan Mexican
community study identified having fruit trees, fowls, pigs,
vegetables, ornamentals and cattle. Some home gardens had
pigsties, irrigation systems, and chicken pens. Livestock,
fowl and pigs had negative cash flows due to the high costs
of fodder and high initial capital. Households reported major
requirements in improvement as water for plants and animals,
animal enclosures, motivation, time, and technical assistance.
In Easton side South Africa, researchers assessed the
impact of home gardens on nutrient intake, access to food
and dietary diversity in pre-school children . Food
consumption and dietary diversity was based on a 24-hour
recall of children’s consumption as reported by the caregivers.
Analysis of nutrient intakes before project start showed that
average nutrient intakes were below recommendations for
optimal nutrition except for protein that was double and
vitamin A was above RDA.
Changes in food frequency: Using 24-hour recall
conducted at project start and end, Selepe & Hendriks
reported an increased frequency of consumption of fresh
fruits and vegetables. The consumption of nuts and legumes
doubled by project end. The number of children consuming
dark green vegetables and other vegetables increased by 25%.
The number of children consuming fish and eggs increased by
almost a quarter. Paired t-tests showed statistically significant
changes in the consumption of vitamin A rich vegetables,
other vegetables (seeds, nuts and legumes), cereals, meat,
organ meats and milk. In this South African Study, improved
dietary diversity representing a direct positive impact of home
gardens was reported. In other studies, researchers reported
increased consumption of vegetables due to promotion of
gardening [141-143]. Increased diet diversity as a result of
promoting home gardening was reported by researchers in
Changes in nutrient intake: According to Selepe &
Hendriks nutrient intake from consumed foods was established
using a computer package Dietary Manager. Using before and
after 24-hour recalls, the only significant nutrient intake was
vitamin A and iron but vitamin A intake was way above the
recommended daily allowance at the beginning of the project.
No significant change in fiber intake, and macronutrients
through paired t-tests was observed. Intakes of energy, fat,
fiber and calcium remained inadequate by the end of study.
However, lack of significant changes in nutrient intakes was
reported in other studies [126-127]. Success of agriculture
and nutrition interventions should take into account women’s
economic status, education level, access to and use of health
and sanitation services  and whether nutrition education
services were provided [145-148].
This literature review presents challenges to achievement
of food insecurity and discusses how researchers in different
countries have employed home gardens as a tool to improve food
security and economic stability in households. Using Nicaragua
as a case study, the review pulls together researchers’ views
on how high levels of poverty, unemployment, unfavorable
trade policies, low social capital and climate change are a
hindrance to attainment of food security. The challenges
could indicate that a multidisciplinary approach that includes
experts in climate studies, government bodies, local nongovernment
organizations, community leaders as well as
community members is required. It can also be concluded
that interventions aimed at improving food security should be
tailored to needs of the target community given the differences
in policies, climatic effects and demographic factors.
In this literature review, households engage in home
gardening for economic reasons, social reasons or for
attainment of food for household members. The importance
of home gardens varies not only among communities but also
within households in the same community. This may indicate
that researchers hoping to start community gardening
should design home gardening interventions to cater for
various household expectations. Home gardening projects
should also allow for promotion of different crop and animal
varieties to meet the varying food staples of the community.
Barriers to home gardening include labor, limited inputs, poor
soil fertility, inadequate fencing, cultural beliefs and poor
irrigation infrastructure. Barriers to home gardening should
be addressed as much as possible to attain maximum benefits.
In conclusion, given economic and food production
benefits discussed in the review, home gardening can be used
to improve household food security in developing countries.
Developing countries like Nicaragua have limited budgets to
invest in large-scale agriculture, climate change mitigation,
nutrition, health care and education. Home gardening that
requires family labor, small pieces of land and small initial
investment can employed by governments, researchers,
community organizations and non-government organizations
to improve food security.