June 17, 2017 at 05:01 pm
Manila Standard Business
Fifty-eight “lighthouse” schools have been put up in Region 4A by the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction which teaches K-12 pupils gardening as a reliable solution to malnutrition that can be prevalent among schoolchildren.
IIRR says the lighthouse schools in its Gardening and Nutrition Education with School-based Supplementary Feeding is a viable way to source food right from one’s garden.
These gardens are now a source of food for a feeding program in public schools in Region 4A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon).
Likewise, the gardens enlighten pupils and parents on nutrition education.
The program takes inspiration from Cornell University’s International Nutrition program. It uses nutrition education among children or parents as tool in mitigating malnutrition.
“Improved nutrition education has been one of the key factors to prevent 12,000 deaths a year worldwide,” according to the United Nations Millennium Campaign.
When one looks at the list of vegetables that IIRR teaches the schoolchildren to plant, he may doubt whether this battle for capturing pupils’ mind for agriculture can be won.
The vegetables are amaranth (kulitis), long-fruited jute (saluyot), Philippine spinach (talinum), horseradish (malunggay), rice bean (tapilan), cowpea (paayap), lima bean (patani), hyacinth bean (batao), ash/white gourd (kundol), pigeonpea (kadios), wiged bean (sigarilyas), and okra.
“We’re interested in influencing their thinking. We have a very powerful device to influence young people on basic environmental natural resource concepts. By growing indigenous vegetables through Bio-intensive gardening[Big], you’re actually conserving our indigenous varieties for future use,” says IIRR farm expert Dr. Julian Gonsalves, who is also the senior program advisor.
The apparently more important role of the GARNESSUP lighthouse schools is the nourishment of children in public schools.
An IIRR study shows that “school-based supplementary feeding using produce from school gardens effectively improved nutritional status and reduced anemia rates.”
It notes a significant decrease in anemia prevalence from 20.8 percent to 4.2 percent in a group of children with feeding program using iron fortified rice compared to the children with ordinary rice and those that never had a feeding program at all.
Moreover, savings from the use of indigenous vegetables from school gardens in six months reached P8,851 and benefited 146 schoolchildren.
Schools studied were the Felipe Calderon Elementary School in Tanza, Cavite and the Gen. Aloha Elemenetary School in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
The study was conducted with the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute, International Development Research Centre, and the Department of Education.
DOST-FNRI noted in its National Nutrition Survey that 3.35 million children aged 4 and below were found undernourished under the MDG Philippine Progress Report 2010.