Australia funds via FAO to set up entrepreneurial school gardens | Sunday Observer

Australia funds via FAO to set up entrepreneurial school gardens

29 January, 2023

Over 200 schools will receive funds from Australia via the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to set up entrepreneurial school gardens in the North, Central and Uva Provinces to support nutritional security among children.

The entrepreneurial school gardens program, implemented as part of a project funded by the Australian Government over USD 2.3 million, is aimed at improving the food and nutritional security of groups most affected by the economic crisis, particularly women and children.

The program features a discovery-based learning approach for over 100,000 secondary school students from grades 8 – 12, where they will be educated on the capacity to transform their school gardens into sources of nutritious produce that will facilitate diverse and healthy eating habits and encourage students to apply entrepreneurial thinking into agriculture.

About 505 school teachers from the three provinces were trained on the discovery-based learning methodology as part of the program to improve skills in food security, nutrition, agriculture and entrepreneurship.

An agriculture club in each school will be empowered to operate as a core program partner that will oversee the coordination and navigation of the program alongside school officials. It will also oversee the sale of harvests from the gardens, and will be linked to sales points including private sector organisations, parents of students, local markets, or the national school meal program via the FAO to ensure the harvests of the gardens generate an income thereby ensuring the sustainability of the gardens beyond the project period.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Paul Stephens said, “School gardening has the potential to improve children’s health and support learning.

Involving students in school gardening and teaching them about the benefits of nutrition can have a lasting impact. This program is helping to highlight the value of growing food for household food security.”

FAO Representative in Sri Lanka, Vimlendra Sharan said, “We are appreciative of this generous assistance from the people of Australia, which has enabled this sustainable school-to-home knowledge transfer approach to strengthen food security among school children. School gardens offer rich environments for children to engage in active learning. The knowledge will be transferred through students to their family members and by extension, to the communities, prompting an attitudinal change on food consumption habits and new agricultural concepts.”

The FAO will work closely with the Ministry of Education, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and the Chief Secretariat of Uva, Central and Northern provinces, to educate children on eco-friendly agricultural practices and nutrition.