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Vegetables-go-to-School Program: Why India needs school garden projects to reverse malnutrition

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By Prachi Mishra

The United Nations has recognized malnutrition as one of the world’s most serious but least addressed health problems. In Southeast Asia, malnutrition continues to remain a leading cause of child deaths and lower learning outcomes in children.

Some significant measures have been taken to address the issue, and ‘Vegetables-go-to-School’ is one such project undertaken to grapple with malnutrition, especially among children. This project has introduced comprehensive school vegetable garden programs in selected countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Burkina Faso, and Indonesia.

What is ‘Vegetables-go-to School’ program?

Under this project, school gardens are constructed and students are taught the importance of nutrition and balanced diet. They are also familiarized with the necessity of sanitation and healthy life- style.

The agenda behind creating school gardens is to help children in achieving better understanding of biological processes, sustainable agricultural practices, and raising environmental awareness. It also provides better information about healthy food choices, encouraging the intake of diversified diets and ensuring water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Further, it also helps to reduce the cost of food. It provides a safety net to poor people by giving them the ability to grow their own food.

The project doesn’t only target school children, but also school administrators, teachers, and parents. It encourages them to build private vegetable gardens at their homes.

The potential of school gardens in coping with malnutrition

School is one of the best places to implement good health programs to achieve far- reaching changes in the society.

Moreover, if the children inculcate healthy habits at a young age, it’s more likely that they would retain them throughout their life.

 If each student is able to learn sustainable agriculture practices, they could reach out to the farmers and help them in implementing such practices in farming.

The school gardens would not only improve the health sector but would also boost the economy of a country.

 Some earlier school garden projects

‘Vegetables-go-to-School’ is not a new concept. In 1957, Food and Agriculture Organisation started a joint venture with UNICEF, called the “Applied Nutrition Program,” which aimed at better nutrition through school and community gardens which were sometimes combined with a small livestock and/or fish pond component (FAO 1966).

This program was mostly successful, but had certain drawbacks caused by the poor planning and mismanagement done on the part of authorities.

Similar initiatives were taken in Negros Occidental province in 1984 during a national economic crisis, which displaced 250,000 sugar workers and almost 25 children died every month from malnutrition. To cope with the situation, home gardens for cultivation were developed and widely promoted to produce adequate vegetables for the families. Reportedly, within two years of introducing the program, the rate of malnutrition in the province dropped from 40 per cent to 25 per cent.

In the United Kingdom ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign brought educational improvements in students as it shifted school meals away from low-budget processed foods towards healthier options with more fruit and vegetables.

Does India need school gardens?

One of the major causes for the increasing cases of malnutrition in India is poverty and lack of adequate food. However, malnutrition can exist even where the food supply is adequate.

Such cases of malnutrition are prominent among the affluent families who get sufficient amount of food but their diets may be excessively deficient in one or more nutrients.

According to World Health Organisation, in India close to 1.3 million children die every year because of malnutrition. Several policies and measures have been initiated to curb malnutrition. However it still persists, affecting large number of children.

Introducing the concept of school gardens in India can help in tackling malnutrition to a great extent. In rural areas, such gardens can provide cheap and sufficient vegetables that can be utilized for mid-day meals for the children.

In cities where people have moved away from farming, school gardens can take back the children to the traditional methods of growing vegetables. With children’s nutrition under assault by fast food and junk, school gardens can offer opportunity for an outdoor activity while also teaching them the importance of nutrients-rich diet.

Most importantly, school gardens give a first-hand experience with nature, which seems to have receded in the present age of technology.

A few years back, the Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Andhra Pradesh State Cell, initiated a project ‘Student Amateurs in School Yard Agriculture (SASYA)’ in the Medak district of Andhra Pradesh to provide chemical-free, nutrient-rich vegetables to the children.

This project benefited the students through experiential learning and also established strong relationships between the school and the community.

What’s the future of these programs?

Despite the fact that the school garden projects have been implemented for a long time, it won’t be erroneous to say that most of these remain low- profile. A majority of people won’t have even a little knowledge about their existence.

An increase in the availability, affordability and consumption of nutrient-rich food is one way by which malnutrition may be substantially reversed. However other than implementation of such programs, it is utmost important to collect the data in a refined manner and increase awareness about them across the globe.

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

Measles Victims Dropped
Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)

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Do You Know Which is the Unhealthiest Country in the World?

Are you living in the most unhealthy country in the world?

Unhealthiest country in the world
Did you think you were living in one of the world's healthiest country? Think again! VOA

Geneva, September 28, 2017 : Do you know which is the unhealthiest country in the world? If you think it is some region from the African continent, you are mistaken.

According to a new study by Clinic Compare, the Czech Republic has been recognized as the unhealthiest country in the world.

Drawing upon data gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO), CIA World Factbook and the World Lung Association, 179 countries around the world were assessed on three key factors,

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Prevalence of obesity

The study thus revealed the most unhealthy country in the world – Czech Republic, and highlighted the need for citizens to change their lifestyle in order to combat life-threatening illnesses and maintain and enjoy a healthy life.

ALSO READ Live Healthy Lifestyle with these Diet Hacks

World’s most unhealthy countries


1. Czech Republic
2. Russia
3. Slovenia
4. Belarus
5. Slovakia
6. Hungary
7. Croatia
8. Poland
9. Luxembourg
10. Lithuania and the United States


As per the examination, the residents of Czech Republic positioned as the world’s greatest liquor consumers, with every individual expending 13.7 liters of liquor for each annum (around 1.5 shots per day). They additionally ranked eleventh on the list of the highest tobacco customers.

This comes as a surprise as poverty-stricken countries of Africa were instead found to be among the healthiest countries in the world.

According to the research, Eastern Europe emerged as the unhealthiest region in the world, occupying nine out of the best 10 top spots in the list.

41 per cent of the population in Samoa was further revealed to have a BMI over 30, making Oceania the world’s fattest region. Also included in the top 10 list of the fattest regions were Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Healthiest Country in the World

The findings revealed that the healthiest country was Afghanistan with merely 2.7 per cent of the population having a BMI over 30. This places the country on the world’s second lowest rate of obesity.

It was further revealed that the citizens of Afghanistan consume the least recorded quantity of alcohol and smoke 83 cigarettes a year. This can be largely attributed to the nation’s laws that forbid the possession and consumption of alcohol.

The research placed Guinea as the second healthiest country, closely followed by Niger and Nepal.

ALSO READ WHO says Millions of People are Dying Pre-mature Deaths Due to Non-Communicable Diseases

World’s healthiest countries


1. Afghanistan

2. Guinea

3. Niger

4. Nepal

5. DR Congo

6. Eritrea

7. Malawi

8. Somalia

9. Mozambique

10. Ethiopia


Eight Countries from Africa made it to the list of the healthiest countries in the world, which comes as a pleasant surprise for all.

According to a WHO report released in mid-September, it was revealed that non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular diseases are an increasing cause of premature deaths all around the world, taking as many as 30 million lives annually.

These diseases cause self-inflicted damage and trace their roots to individual lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs and unhealthy or unbalanced diet.

The new findings put greater pressure on the countries that have made it to the list of unhealthy countries, thereby urging them to undertake stronger measures.


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Global Hunger on Rise Again: UN Food Agencies

Global Hunger Crisis
Global Hunger Crisis. IANS

Rome, Sep 16, 2017: After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016, or 11 per cent of the global population, Rome-base UN food agencies said on Friday.

The warning was made by Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO), International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) along with the other bodies in a new edition of the annual United Nations report on world food security and nutrition.

“At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide”, the agencies were cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.

According to the report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, the increase — 38 million more people than the previous year — is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.

Also Read: Celebrity Chef Akshay Nayyar Joins Hands with NGO Akshaya Patra Foundation to Counter Hunger Problem

Some 155 million children aged under five are stunted (too short for their age) while 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height, it said.

An estimated 41 million children are now overweight and anaemia among women and adult obesity are also cause for concern, the report added.

And “these trends are a consequence not only of conflict and climate change but also of sweeping changes in dietary habits as well as economic slowdowns”. (IANS)