Food Ethics

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 35–48 | Cite as

Vegetable Diversity, Productivity, and Weekly Nutrient Supply from Improved Home Gardens Managed by Ethnic Families - a Pilot Study in Northwest Vietnam

  • To Thi Thu Ha
  • Jen Wen Luoh
  • Andrew Sheu
  • Le Thi Thuy
  • Ray-yu YangEmail author
Research Article


Assess to quality diets is a basic human right. Geographical challenges and cultural traditions have contributed to the widespread malnutrition present among ethnic minorities of mountainous areas in Northwest Vietnam. Home gardens can play a role in increased diet diversity and micronutrient intakes. However, low production yields and plant diversity in ethnic home gardens have limited their contributions to household food security and nutrition. The pilot study tested a home garden intervention in weekly vegetable harvests and increasing household production and consumption of diverse vegetables year-round. Food ethics issues encountered included limited access to quality food by resource-poor groups, conflicts arising from low preference and value given to some nutritious foods, limited access to information and technology for food production and consumption, each of which were addressed in the study design. The intervention includes: (1) nutrition-focused home garden training and (2) locally-adapted home garden packages consisting of garden planning, technical assistance, and high-yielding seed varieties. Twenty households from two ethnic villages in Son La province participated in the study and were randomly assigned into two groups (intervention and non-intervention). The total vegetable supply from weekly harvests of home garden produce was significantly higher in the intervention households (226 kg) compared to the non-intervention households (39 kg). The intervention group yielded 5.8 and 1.7 times more vegetables by weight and weight per area than those without the intervention. The vegetables were mainly consumed at home for both groups, but the intervention households gave more vegetables as gifts to neighbors. The intervention group cultivated a higher diversity of vegetables with a total of 42 different vegetables compared to 24 in the non-intervention group, which is reflected in an overall higher nutritional yield of vitamin A, iron, other micronutrients and phytochemicals. The home garden training significantly improved the amount, diversity and continuity of household food and nutrient supply. The home garden model is effective and could be scaled up to improve household vegetable supply and consumption, particularly in Northwest Vietnam.


Home garden Vegetables Nutritional yield Diversity Developing countries 



Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research


Food and Agriculture Organization


Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute


International Network of Food Data Systems


National Institute of Nutrition in Vietnam


Food Standards Australia New Zealand.


Retinol Activity Equivalent


Recommended Dietary Allowances


United States Department of Agriculture


World Health Organization



We are grateful to the gardeners providing their time and collecting data, to Vietnam National Institute of Nutrition developing and providing nutrition trainings for the study. This research was funded by CGIAR Humidtropics Program and by long-term strategic donors to the World Vegetable Center: Republic of China (Taiwan), UK aid by the UK government, United States Agency for International Development, Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, Germany, Thailand, Philippines, Korea, and Japan.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

The informed consent for the training program and providing yearly harvest data was obtained from all the study participants and the community leaders.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Vegetable Center, Vietnam Office c/o Fruit and Vegetable Research InstituteHanoiVietnam
  2. 2.World Vegetable CenterTainanTaiwan
  3. 3.Fruit and Vegetable Research InstituteHanoiVietnam

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