Homestead agroforestry, in the form of homegardens, has a long tradition in many developing countries. These systems are an intimate mix of diversified agricultural crops and multipurpose trees planted, maintained by members of the household. This paper aims to explore the species composition commonly found in the homestead agroforestry systems in the Ganges valley of northern Bangladesh and their contribution to local livelihoods. Three villages i.e., ‘Capasia’, ‘Chak Capasia’ and ‘Baduria’ were selected as the primary study area. Data were collected by (1) rapid rural appraisal, (2) direct observation, (3) informal and structured interviews with a purposive sample of 90 households. A total of 53 plant species under 32 families were identified from the study area and it was found that the relative density were highest for Areca catechu (areca palm), Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit) and Mangifera indica (mango). Financial analysis showed that homestead agroforestry net benefit increases with the increasing landholding classes. However, no significant difference was found between the number of species in different farm sizes, contrasting other studies that accused this relationship. The comparison of Shannon-Wiener index between agroforestry systems and natural forest showed no statistical difference, reinforcing the role of homegardens in biological conservation in Bangladesh. Therefore, increasing agroforestry practices in homesteads, should be the strategy for enhancing tree cover in order to meet basic needs of the local people and for environmental sustainability.
Science Journal of Agricultural Research and Management, 2013, Vol 2013