Botswana is classified as an upper middle income country and despite having attained such economic growth, the country still faces socio-economic challenges such as poverty. The current poverty rate is 20.7% while rural poverty is 24.7% which is relatively higher for an upper middle income country. In order to address this problem, the government introduced the Poverty Eradication Programme. This study therefore, sought to assess the income, expenditure and consumption dimensions of households that have benefited from backyard gardens which form part of the Poverty Eradication Programme in Southern district of Botswana. The study areas were three sub-districts of Southern district, Botswana whereby cross-sectional data was used to evaluate the effects of backyard gardens on household incomes. The objectives were to: characterize households with and without backyard gardens: evaluate the factors that influenced the gross margin of backyard gardens, and evaluate the impact of backyard gardens on rural household consumption expenditure. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the backyard gardens program. Multi-stage sampling technique was employed to acquire proportionate sample of 247 respondents. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics, gross margin analysis, regression analysis and propensity score matching. Results showed that gardens were a viable activity as gardens had positive gross margins. Gross margins were affected by a number of factors including fertilizer application, market availability and area planted. Even though, backyard gardens were viable they are affected by a various production and marketing constraints and the major constraints were pests and diseases, lack of water, lack of market and poor prices. Propensity score matching revealed that average consumption expenditure of backyard garden program beneficiaries was P934.02 which was 8.07 % higher than that of non-beneficiaries (P841.34) of the backyard gardens indicating that backyard garden program has improved the livelihoods of rural households. Thus, the government can invest more on the program as one of the extreme poverty reduction tools and encourage beneficiaries to put more effort into making the gardens successful. This could be possible if the program leaders could develop policies aimed at enhancing productivity of backyard gardens through provision of workshops and seminars whereby beneficiaries would acquire more training on vegetable production. Therefore, it can be concluded that backyard garden program plays a crucial role in improving the living standards of Batswana.

Background Information 
Botswana was classified as one of the ten poorest countries at the time of independence in 1966 and currently it is classified as an upper middle income country (Maipose, 2008). Though it has attained such economic growth, the country still faces socio economic challenge of poverty among others. The spread of poverty is geographical with some areas more profoundly affected than others. Results from the Botswana Core Welfare Indicator Survey (BCWIS) of 2009/10, revealed that poverty headcount rate stood at 20.7 % which is relatively high for an upper middle income country. Botswana‟s aspiration is to surpass the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2030 (Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, 2015). 

In order to achieve this goal, the government has introduced several initiatives aimed at improving the livelihoods of Batswana by addressing all aspects of poverty. These include among others the policy on environment such as the Environment Impact Assessment Act of 2005, Strategic Framework for Community Development in Botswana of 2010 and the establishment of sustainable economic empowerment projects under Young farmers CEDA fund which was established in 2004, Local Enterprise Authority established by the Small Business Act number 7 of 2004 and the Economic Diversification Drive (2010). Others include programs for orphans and destitute persons which falls under the Revised National Policy on Destitute Persons (2002), subsidized Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) which falls under the National Policy on Housing (2000) and agricultural schemes which are under the National Policy for Agricultural Development of 1991 (MOPAPA, 2015). In addition to the above initiatives, a Poverty Eradication Programme that would aid in attaining food security and minimum sustainable livelihoods amongst disadvantaged individuals and/or families was introduced. The packages in the Poverty Eradication Programme include: Food items include; Jam, pickles, food catering, food packaging, backyard garden, bakery, small stock, poultry and bee keeping and non-food items include; kiosk, home based laundry, leather works, textiles, tent hire, landscaping, hair salon, backyard tree nursery, upholstery, handy crafts (basketry, wood carving, pottery), arts, craft, traditional dance and song. 

The backyard garden program was introduced towards the end of 2009, as a government initiative through which individuals were identified and funded for a backyard garden (Basimane, 2014). Beneficiaries are given inputs such as irrigation systems (water tank, drip irrigation pipes), seeds, fertilizer, tools (spade, garden fork, and rake), gum tree poles and net shade (Botlhoko, 2012; Keakabetse, 2013). 

According to Torimiro et al. (2015) the types of vegetables that are mostly grown in the gardens are spinach (Spinacea oleracea L.), onion (Allium cepa L.), beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.), carrot (Daucus carota L.), rape (Brassica napus L.), chomolia (Brassica oleracea L.), green pepper (Capsicum annum L.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Challenges that backyard garden owners reported to face include lack of water, lack of finance, lack of market, pests and diseases, lack of technical knowledge on vegetable production and preservation and lack of encouragement from extension workers (Subair and Siyana, 2003; Torimiro et al., 2015). 

Backyard farming contributes to food security by assuring the provision of food in fresh form to satisfy the immediate calorie and nutritional needs of the household (Ojo, 2009). They are small pieces of land measuring approximately 30m by 10m in a residential area which is used to guarantee that the needs of immediate household members (Ojo, 2009). According to Ditedu (2015) backyard gardens were started with the aim of making sure that households were self-sufficient in fresh vegetables and they sell the surplus to their neighbours or through wet markets. Mostly these wet markets are found in front of retail supermarkets and the fresh vegetables are sold for a price lower than what the supermarket is offering for the same product. 

Statement of the Problem 
At the inception of the backyard gardening program, the government argued that these gardens would help poor households achieve food security and enhanced incomes through direct food provision and would enable households to earn income through sale of surplus produce. Though many households have been recruited into the program since its inception, the impact of these backyard gardens on household welfare have not been evaluated. Consequently evidence as to whether the socio-economic status of households that benefitted from backyard gardening has improved is largely unavailable. Likewise, direct impact of the program on access to food and household incomes remain largely un-documented. This study therefore sought to assess the income, expenditure and consumption dimensions of the backyard gardening program of households in Southern District of Botswana. 

Objectives of the Study 
General Objective 
The aim is to contribute to improved household welfare of backyard gardens beneficiaries and food security in Southern District, Botswana. 

Specific Objectives 
i. To characterize households with and without backyard gardens as per their socio economic indicators in Southern district, Botswana. 
ii. To evaluate the gross margins of the backyard gardens and factors that influence the gross margins of backyard gardens in Southern district, Botswana. 
iii. To evaluate the impact of backyard gardens on rural household consumption expenditure. 

Research Questions 
i. What are the socio-economic characteristics of households in the study area? 
ii. Is there any difference in the gross margins of the backyard gardens? 
iii. What is the impact of backyard gardens on household consumption expenditure? 

Justification of the Study 
Considering the effort that the government is putting in making sure the programme is a success, there is need to assess how the backyard gardens are performing in terms of contributing to the standards of living of small scale vegetable farmers. Therefore the results will provide empirical evidence of the contribution of backyard gardens. 

Secondly, findings will contribute towards the development of short and long term policy interventions aimed at fostering eradication of extreme poverty in the country. It will also add literature on the analysis of backyard gardens and poverty linkages specifically for smallholder farmers. 

Scope and Limitations 
The study used backyard gardens that are in the rural areas and are part of the poverty eradication programme. The limitation that this study had was that data collection was done during the period when most respondents were at the fields as it was harvesting time. To overcome this, the researcher made arrangements to interview the respondents in their preferred environment. Other respondents were unwilling to be interviewed no matter the level of assurance of anonymity and to address this limitation, those respondents were skipped. Most of the respondents did not keep records so they were not sure about some of the feedback that they were giving therefore to overcome this limitation, follow up questions were asked to ascertain the answers given. 

Definition of Terms 
Backyard garden - is a small piece of land (10m by 10m, 20m by 10m or 30m by 10m) cultivated around the dwelling place which have been funded by the Botswana government. 

Gross margin - compares the performance of enterprises that have similar requirements for capital and labour. It is given by total income less the variable costs associated with that enterprise. 

Productivity – is a measure of efficiency in which inputs are utilized in production. It is the ratio of agricultural outputs to agricultural inputs. 

Small scale vegetable farmer - refers to the beneficiary of the backyard garden scheme as funded by the government. 

Welfare - this is the improvement in the household income level and livelihoods which leads to increase in consumption expenditure.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 71 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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