Did you miss World Food Day? Each year on October 16, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Food Day is celebrated to increase awareness of global hunger, encourage attention to agricultural food production and strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger and food insecurity. In celebration of this day, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is contributing to the fight to reduce food insecurity and global poverty.

Naibul Khatun understands firsthand the importance of AKDN’s activities to address food insecurity. The wife of a migrant worker who earns around $1 a day and with no land of her own, she is part of India’s 68% of landless households living in poverty. The impoverished landless far surpasses the 45% poverty incidence of illiterate households. A World Bank study (2002) found that landlessness is the greatest predictor of poverty in India, and India has the largest number of landless rural households in the world.

Naibul participates in the Landless Gardens initiative by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) India, a program of AKDN which provides an easy and reliable solution to her food insecurity problem. Prior to joining the program, Naibul had difficultly feeding her three children and father-in-law. The program works with her and other landless households in Bihar to grow gardens on the roofs of their homes. By distributing gunny bags and vegetable seeds and teaching household members to grow vegetables and fruits out of the gunny sacks, households gain access to more highly nutritious foods.

Within a month and a half of participating in the Landless Gardens initiative, Naibul harvested 50 squash and was able to add a consistent vegetable to her families’ diet. By having a reliable source of food, she has now gained the confidence to lease some land to grow more vegetables to sell for a profit. Extremely poor households like hers can now earn extra income by selling any excess at the market.

Naibul is one of many of the initiative’s beneficiaries. Starting as a pilot intervention with only 100 households, the program expanded to 300 households because of the high need and demand. The program is on track to reach thousands of households by the end of 2011.

The Landless Gardens initiative provides an easy and reliable solution to many family’s food insecurity problem in India. Learn how to start your own landless garden and continue celebrating World Food Day here.

The Landless Gardens initiative by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) India works with a number of local partners, including the Bihar Mahadalit Vikas Mission, Srishti Foundation and Grameen Vikas Trust. In addition, AKRSP (India) supports other programs in economic development, social development, and governance, reaching over 500,000 beneficiaries in over 1100 villages across India.