A vegetable pool is a bag located in the middle of a small round and elevated piece of land in which vegetables are grown close to the homestead. Creeper vegetables are grown on top of the bag; other vegetables are grown in wholes at the side of the bag and on the round piece of land around the bag. Irrigation water is only applied to a bamboo stick located in the center of the bag which guides the water to lower parts of the bag and the surrounding vegetable patch. The purpose of the vegetable pool is to increase the production of safe vegetables near the homestead, to diversify the household members’ diet and thereby to contribute to food and nutrition security. The vegetable pool is a simple technology implemented in Bangladesh especially in drought prone and saline areas that uses few and locally available material.
The vegetable pool was piloted in 2009 in drought prone areas of Northern districts by Caritas in Bangladesh after a field excursion of staff members to Sri Lanka in 2007 where the technology was seen. The technology is well suited for water scarce environments. The vegetable pool was specifically developed for terrace topography, but works also well under other topographic conditions. The ideal soil is sandy loam but the technology may also be applied in any other type of soil. The typical adopters in Bangladesh are women of poor and vulnerable households.
Construction of a vegetable pool
The minimum land size for constructing a vegetable pool should be 4.1 m² (the circle area should have a diameter of 2.30 m = 7.5 feet = 90 inch). Materials needed are a jute bag, farmyard manure, rope, a bamboo pole or stick, rice straw or any other available organic material, and - if animals are freely roaming in the courtyard - fencing materia
- Fill a jute bag (height: 1 m) with sandy loam soil and farm yard manure 2:1 ratio. Rice straw and or vegetable residues can be mixed with the soil-manure-mixture, if available.
- Enter a 1 m bamboo in the center of the jute bag.
- After that, the jute bag with the bamboo pole inside is located in the center of a circle on the ground which is approximately 4.1 m² in size (diameter of 2.3 m). Pile up sandy loam soil and farmyard manure (mixed in a 2:1 ratio) up to a height of 30 cm inside the circle.
- Little wholes can be cut into the sides of the jute bag where vegetables can be grown. When planting, creeper vegetables need to be put on top of the jute bag and other seeds and seedlings should be placed in the holes of the jute bag and on the elevated area around the bag.
The preparation time to set up the vegetable pool is about 4-5 hours. Subsequently, the growing vegetables require little attention except for regular watering which is estimated to take 5 to 10 minutes per day. Even wastewater from washing utensils can be used to irrigate the vegetable pool.
Outputs from the vegetable pool
A vegetable pool of approximately 4.1 m² in size (diameter of 2.3 m) can produce approximately 120 kg of vegetables per year. The production cycle depends on the climatic conditions of the region where the technology is applied. In Bangladesh, there are two cycles per year: 4 winter months and 8 summer months.
Initial investment cost for one production unit (as defined above) is US$ 5.70 (or BDT 450). Variable production costs occur for seeds, seedlings and the jute bag that has to be replaced approximately every year.
Assuming that the household sells all vegetables at an average vegetable price of approximately US$ 0.25 (20 BDT) per kg, a gross margin of about US$ 24 per year (or BDT 1940) can be achieved. Conversely, a househ
old would save US$ 24 per year for not purchasing vegetables that are available from the vegetable pool. However, the value of total sales or money saved will depend on the types of vegetables grown or otherwise purchased. It also has to be pointed out that these calculations are theoretical. Mostly, the vegetable pool will contribute to improved nutrition through diversified diets of the household and its neighboring households. In Bangladesh, it is customary to give away a considerable amount of the own harvest to neighbors and friends.
This information was kindly prepared and provided by Mr. Agustin Bario (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Mr. Sukleash George Coata (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org), Caritas Bangladesh.