Schools directed to grow vegetables, fruits in kitchen gardens in Mysore district, India

Schools directed to grow vegetables, fruits in kitchen gardens in Mysore district, India

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI), in its recent circular, has asked school administrations to make use of vacant space available on the school premises to grow vegetables, fruits and leaves as part of the “Maguvigondu Mara, Shalegondu Vana” programme.

Already, many government schools in Mysore district have developed gardens on their campuses and are growing vegetables that are used in cooking meals.

Some schools were even sharing vegetables and fruits with other schools at a nominal cost. Such schools have emerged as models for others to replicate, according to sources in the DPI.

Ningarajaiah, officer in charge of Akshara Dasoha in Mysore district, told The Hindu that the department had asked schools to implement the scheme from the coming academic year. The schools had been told to encourage each student or a student group to plant a sapling, preferably fruit-bearing plants, and nurture them on a regular basis.

Also, the schools had been told to beautify their campuses by planting flowering and ornamental plants. Instructions had been issued to the officials concerned for implementing the direction issued by the Commissioner of Public Instruction effectively from the coming academic year, he said.

Mr. Ningarajaiah said the government school at Chikkegowdana Koppal village at Yelwal near Mysore has become a model for other schools as it has become self-sufficient and has been giving out the produce to nearby schools. Other schools in the area have started replicating the concept, he added.

“The idea is not to minimise the expenditure on the meal programme but to develop a healthy ambience in the schools,” he said, adding the schools have funds that could be used for developing these gardens.

He said there are plans to coordinate with the Department of Horticulture in Mysore district for procuring vegetable seeds besides saplings of drumstick, papaya and other fruits.

Even though vegetables grown on school premises were being used in cooking food under the Akshara Dasoha scheme, the cost of meal per child will remain the same, according to Mr. Ningarajaiah.

The cost of meal per child is Rs. 3.34 (from classes I to V); Rs. 5 from classes VI to VII and Rs. 6.64 from classes IX to X. This excludes the cost of rice, which is supplied at subsidised cost by the Union government through the Food Corporation of India. The State government pays Rs. 565 for a quintal of rice, he said.