Feature: Bio-intensive gardening to improve nutrition status of school children
by Bennie A. Recebido
Province of Sorsogon (12 February) -- Some 50 elementary schools here have embarked on Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG), a program that establishes a 100-square meter garden planted with high value seeds, to supplement the nutritional deficiencies of school children.
Said program on gardening was launched early this year by the Provincial Government of Sorsogon and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd).
Sorsogon Governor Sally A. Lee said its primary objective is to address improvement in school attendance by focusing on indigence, malnutrition and related health problems of children in the primary grades in public elementary schools.
This project is known in the province as Food Always in the Home (FAITH) Gardening which is at the same time envisioned to complement with the current Vegetable Gardening in Every School Project or "Gulayan sa Eskwelahan" of the DepEd, Department of Agriculture and the Local Government Units.
Harvests of both project are given to the pupils which they can bring at home for their personal consumption or sold in the market the harvest beyond their consumption capacity.
Lee said that the selection of schools for inclusion in the program puts high priority to those with the highest recorded incidence of malnutrition problems.
As stated in the Memorandum of Agreement, IIRR will train representatives from the 50 elementary schools along with their immediate communities. They will be given mentoring and technical guidance so as to establish a demonstration farm. The school will also receive planting seeds and garden tools. While the provincial government will allocate fund for the establishment of the bio-intensive garden and conduct of trainings for its counterpart.
IIRR is an international development organization based in Silang, Cavite promoting people-centered development through capacity building for the poor and its community.
The bio-intensive method, on the other hand, is an organic agricultural system which focuses on maximum yields from the minimum area of land, while simultaneously improving the soil. The goal of the method is long term sustainability on a closed system basis. It rebuilds and maintains soil fertility through nutrient cycling, diversified cropping and deep-bed preparation on small-scale plots (200-500 sq. feet). It also contains a diverse range of indigenous crops which minimizes the opportunities for pest outbreaks and preserves indigenous seed varieties.
BIG was first introduced by IIRR in 1986 in the provinces of Negros Occidental to address economic and food crisis which apparently gained remarkable success. (PIA Sorsogon) [top]