For class nine student Archana Naik, growing vegetables in her school’s backyard is a wonder. “We’d seen vegetables and fruits being sold by vendors in the market, but had no idea about growing them.This initiative has inspired many of us,” she said.
The initiative she refers to goes back to the beginning of this academic year, when Uttara Kannada Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Roshan introduced the kitchen garden project in select schools.
Roshan said, “Based on the suggestion given by Rural Development Panchayat Raj Secretary Uma Mahadevan and following the model of growing kitchen gardens in the government schools in Meghalaya, this project was planned.”
For this, MGNREGA and the horticulture, education and AYUSH departments were roped in, and a comprehensive convergent action plan was formulated.
Later, a target was given to the Cluster Resource Persons to identify one school in their limits considering the basic facilities like compound walls (to prevent the entry of animals), land availability (to grow vegetables) and water availability.
Following the directions, supervisors of 224 clusters including both the Karwar and Sirsi educational districts came forward with their proposals and a model was designed for kitchen gardens at an estimated cost of Rs 15,000 per school.
In the first stage, students started growing iron-rich vegetables, mainly palak, drumstick, radish, medicinalplants, and herbs like punarnava, ajwain and giloy.
Importance was given for growing Ayurvedic plants to create awareness among people about their traditional knowledge.
Of the 224 schools, at present, 65 schools have reached ‘harvesting time’ and the yield is good.
The produce has been used as a supplement in mid-day meals.
Weekly once, the plantation is maintained and managed by the children through their respective eco clubs.
So, while growing vegetables, students know the efforts of farmers. If they lose the crop, they also understand how difficult it is to get the yield.
“This year, we are hoping for a repetitive process, wherein, depending upon the seasons, efforts will be made to get at least two crops. There are a total of 2,352 schools under the District Akshara Dasoha Scheme. In the initial stage, the kitchen garden project has been started in 224 schools in the year 2019-20. This will be expanded to other schools in the coming days,” Roshan added.