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Abstract, Agriculture & Food Security, 2013

With the global population expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050, there is a continuous need to increase food production and buffer stocks. In this scenario, countries around the world, especially developing countries where the pervasiveness of hunger and food scarcity is more acute, are resorting to various counter strategies to meet the growing demand and to avert food insecurity and famine. Over the recent years there has been growing interest to strengthen and intensify local food production in order to mitigate the adverse effect of global food shocks and food price volatilities. Consequently, there is much attention towards home gardens as a strategy to enhance household food security and nutrition. Home gardens are an integral part of local food systems and the agricultural landscape of developing countries all over the world and have endured the test of time.

Through a rigorous literature review, this paper first examines definitions and characteristics of home gardens and then provides a global review of their social, economic, and environmental contributions to communities in various socio-economic contexts. Many of the compositions on home gardens share research and experiences of developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These studies recognize positive impacts of home gardens towards addressing food insecurity and malnutrition as well as providing additional benefits such as income and livelihood opportunities for resource-poor families and delivering a number of ecosystem services. However, only a handful of case studies were found on post-crisis settings. While providing a general overview of some of these studies, this review investigates the home garden experiences of post-conflict Sri Lanka, where home gardening has been practiced for centuries. While emphasizing multiple benefits, we also highlight constraints to home garden food production. In conclusion, we emphasize the need for more research and empirical data to appraise the role of home gardens in crisis and post-crisis situations, as well as assessing their economic value and their impacts on food security, nutrition, economic growth, and gender issues.