Yangchen C Rinzin

Vegetable Go To School Porject (VGtS) has led to more organised vegetable gardens in the schools, contributing to better nutrition.

VGtS is a multidisciplinary school garden project piloting the use of multi-intervention school garden programmes in five countries – Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, and Nepal to improve food security and nutrition.

A commitment was also signed between former education minister Norbu Wangchuk and former agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji to support synergies between school, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition programmes in the education system in 2017.

Since the commitment was signed, Project manager of VGtS and school agriculture programme coordinator, B B Rai, said that the project established various sustainable ways and means to address the impact of gardening and eating habits.

“Through this, the integration of agriculture with health and nutrition for school feeding programme has really created the impact. Even with the change of government, we’re still practising the integration concept,” he said.

BB Rai said that keeping in mind the commitment for the integration, both the ministries train teachers to train on the WASH concept, impact of nutrition food, while officials from agriculture go as resources to train the cooks or mess in-charge on the vegetable gardening, how to cook nutrition food, and practice model or container gardening.

The project has now led to agriculture programme in schools with more meaning, more time to learn and impactful learning with organised vegetables garden contributing to nutrition.

“Although we did not conduct any trial, however, the physical event shows that schools with gardens have sufficient green vegetables,” he said. “They also have a variety of vegetables to learn and also to taste from.”

Although, there is no clinical study conducted, with this integration concept and also the implementation of fortified rice, BB Rai said that many nutritionists expressed that many of problems related to health had been reduced in schools that practice vegetable gardening. “The integration of school vegetable gardens with activities of health and school feeding programme for better food and nutrition have been achieved so far.”