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Integration of Natural Medicines with Food Crops in the Home Garden

In REAP (Rural Extension with Africa’s Poor) we have been working for many years with small farmers on low input sustainable agriculture. The strategy we have taken is that in order to be relevant for the rural poor, teaching should be based on what people can do for themselves rather than purchased inputs. This, therefore, links very naturally with our belief in the environmental soundness of low external input agriculture and enables a two-pronged approach towards the same end. Most of our teaching is based on replacing purchased inputs with productive knowledge-based family labour for more efficient production. This strategy is also based on the value of productive subsistence, in which farm families benefit from producing quality food for home consumption. One of the main strategies of subsistence production at any level is variety, which both reduces risk and increases the quality of life through what is consumed. We have recently come to learn that productive subsistence relates to much more than just food production and that a mixed farm can satisfy so many more of the family’s needs.
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