SEARCA launches project on science-based food and nutrition program via school gardens
The declining interest of youth in agriculture and malnutrition among schoolchildren are two of the pressing challenges in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia. Convinced that healthy children are the foundation of a healthy society, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) collaborated with the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd), the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) College, and the local government units of Laguna, Philippines.
The Participatory Action Research on School and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction, and Sustainable Development project is designed to encompass three interrelated areas of intervention: nutrition (improved food diversity and availability through school gardens), education (learning-by-doing food production activities), and economics (savings on food costs and added income). It will be piloted in five elementary schools in Laguna that were selected based on track record of success and dedicated staff for implementing similar projects, availability of land for school gardens, and high prevalence of impoverished and nutritionally deficient pupils and families/households.
Science-based knowledge and simple production technologies will play major roles in the project; one of which is the introduction of edible landscaping system to schools.
In line with this project, SEARCA will conduct a workshop on 26 January 2016 at the SEARCA Umali Auditorium, Los Baños, Laguna. The workshop will be participated in by representatives of UPLB’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, College of Agriculture, and College of Human Ecology; DepEd Laguna Division; heads and agriculture teachers of the pilot schools; and the provincial government of Laguna.
The workshop aims to facilitate discussion among the stakeholders of the project on its target activities and implementation strategies. Specifically, the objectives of the workshop are to develop the workplan and determine the institutional arrangements among partners in order to successfully implement the project. Through the help of the other SEAMEO Centers, SEARCA also aims to scale up the project to other parts of the region, such as Indonesia. (Maria Katrina R. Punto)