Traditional tropical homegardens are highly diverse agroforestry systems that make a substantial contribution to the well-being of the family and to its food security. However, understanding and working with homegardens has often been problematic, because of their unique and complex structure, which can make them resemble a chaotic collection of vegetation and a few animals.
A major feature of the homegardens under study is that the emphasis is not on maximizing yields, but rather ensuring that some products or benefits are forthcoming throughout the year. The management of the gardens is therefore very different from that employed in the production of staple food. There are three basic interrelated strategies employed in the homegardens: the regulation of water and humidity, the use of management zones and the general tendency to maintain – and if possible increase – the diversity of floristic species.