SEARCA school, gardens reach UN sustainable goals

  • 7 February 2019, Thursday

Source: Manila Standard
7 Feb 2019

Los Baños, Laguna—The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture has shared during the recently held 18th Science Council of Asia Conference in Tokyo, Japan how its school-plus-home gardens project helped achieved the United Nations sustainable development goals in areas where the project was piloted.

Leah Lyn Domingo, SEARCA public relations specialist, said the school-plus-home gardens project is co-implemented with the Department of Education-Laguna and University of the Philippines Los Baños, aimed to improve the nutritional condition and dietary habits of school-aged children by increasing production of locally adapted vegetables and contribute to the community's food and nutrition security.

She said SEARCA presented during the conference specific strategies to contribute to achieving targets of sustainable development goals through its school-plus-home gardens project.

The council which is the official body of all science academies in Asia aims to highlight research, innovations, and programs that addresses the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development goals across Asia.

During the conference, a paper titled "Addressing and Localizing SDGs through Grassroots-Based School-Plus-Home Gardens in the Philippines" was presented by Dr. Blesilda Calub, project leader and SEARCA adjunct fellow, to elaborate on how the school-plus-home gardens project contributed to achieving at least four sustainable development goals.

Calub said that in the Zero Hunger or sustainable development goals 2, the school-plus-home gardens project showed that year-round production of diverse nutritious indigenous and common vegetables is possible by following a planting calendar.

For Good Health and Well-being or sustainable development goals 3, she said the promotion of organic agriculture in the garden project showed an alternative food production system that respects natural ecological processes and avoids using harmful synthetic farm chemicals that endangers the health of farmers, consumers, and the environment.

Another is sustainable development goals 4 or Quality Education. Calub said local government units were mobilized to allocate funds for school gardening plus feeding programs to improve academic performance of school children and reduce absenteeism and early dropping-out from school.

Lastly, Responsible Consumption and Production or sustainable development goals 12, she said parents, teachers, and students appreciated that food can be better produced through sustainable organic methods.

She said the school gardens were used as learning laboratories for teaching composting and responsible waste management, among others.

Domingo explained that the sustainable development goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all peoples of the world agreed on by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

"They address the global challenges humanity faces, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and the aim is to achieve them by 2030 in order to leave no one behind," Domingo added.

In 2018, SEARCA has started conducting a training of trainers on scaling up the school-plus-home gardens model in Southeast Asia. It was designed to ensure that lessons learned from the pilot stage of the project in the Philippines are picked up, implemented, and sustained in other schools in Southeast Asia.

Domingo said the training of trainers focused on the step-by-step process of establishing locally appropriate models in consideration of the unique context of the schools and communities in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.