FAO promotes school gardening to enhance household food security

Wednesday, 20 July 2011 00:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Harsha Udayakantha Peiris

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has funded and implemented a school gardening project and is currently being carried out in 80 selected schools in the Southern, North Central and Uva Provinces, in partnership with Community Based Organisations (CBOs).

The main objective is to encourage the younger generation to learn and practice simple food production technologies at the school level and to apply due knowledge in their home environment, as a preliminary step to enhance household food security.

The training supported at the project to cultivate vegetables and fruits for consumption at the household level will be a crucial step in minimising the impact of the current food crisis on domestic food production.

FAO Communications Officer Malika De Mel said that the organisation launched this school gardening project with the intention of establishing 80 well-maintained school gardens in the three selected provinces by the end of 2011.

“The initial establishment of these school gardens is expected to be completed by mid August this year and FAO together with the local technical experts will carry out a mid-term evaluation of the project. As an outcome of this evaluation, the best school gardens from amongst the participating schools and the winners of each cluster will be rewarded,” she said. The award ceremony will be held in parallel with events to commemorate ‘World Food Day’ on 16 October 2011.

With FAO’s Innovation Fund, each participating school is given a home gardening package that includes fruit trees and vegetable seeds as well as a set of farming tools for cultivation. Eight identified Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in the three provinces are responsible for distributing the tools and necessary guidance through the teacher in-charge of agriculture in each school. Each CBO will manage a cluster of 10 schools.

At the first cluster of 10 schools met at Nadugala Maha Vidyalaya in Matara recently, a practical session on school gardening for students was also carried out followed by the distribution of gardening tools. School principals, teachers in charge of agriculture and students from schools that included Angunna Badulla College, Nadugala Maha Vidyalaya, Kitalagama West Junior School, Kapuduwa Junior School, Thihagoda Junior School, Nayimbala Junior School and Unella Jayanthi Junior School participated at the initiative workshop.

The first cluster was facilitated by the CBO ‘Wanasarana Thurulatha Voluntary Society’ in Matara.

The principals of the participating schools expressing their views at this innovative measure thanked the implementers of the project for supporting a timely and valuable cause to promote better food life concepts among the school community in Sri Lanka.