WINDHOEK - A hydroponic garden adopted at the Otjomuise Primary School at the beginning of this year has been supplementing the school-feeding programme with vegetables as a source of nutrition.
The school feeds 600 learners daily through their programme, school principal Awie Saal told New Era.
According to Saal, the 600 learners are mostly from very poor backgrounds and can’t afford a lunchbox or money to buy food items at school.
“When we harvest, they have a nutritious meal that has spinach and onions. To complement the maize, we use our produce from the hydroponics garden. We are happy. I am of the opinion that these children eat porridge in the morning, lunch and evening, now there is something to look forward to which is healthy,” remarked Saal.
The ministry of education, in partnership with the World Food Programme, is working together on improving school meals with the introduction of vegetables in the diet through the development of hydroponic gardens.
The school was assisted by United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) hydroponics expert John Francis Serwanga to set up the greenhouse in January.
Serwanga’s role is to train and assist the school with technical support.
He established the hydroponic club at the school, which consists of 20 learners and four science teachers.
The garden has 1 700 plants and Serwanga did the planting and mixing of fertilisers.
The school plants spinach and lettuce in water.
Serwanga said they have planted and harvested vegetables four times already.
He explained hydroponics is a method of growing plants in water without using soil.
The school also plants tomatoes and cabbages in old unused car tyres.
The school further uses traditional method of planting vegetables in the ground but irrigate it with hydroponic-treated water, which gives better and faster yields. Serwanga stated hydroponic has many advantages as it is climate smart and one can plant anytime of the year. He stated this method uses very small space and can plant a lot.
New Era visited the garden during the launch of the national school-feeding policy and hydroponics garden at the school on Friday by education deputy minister Anna Nghipondoka.
Currently, the ministry of education supplies fortified maize blend to schools.
Serwanga said the ministry provides porridge and the objective is to supplement the porridge with vegetables from the garden as a source of nutrition to address the nutrition deficiency in the country.
“This garden supplements the school feeding programme with vegetables as a source of nutrition and the surplus they sell to meet the overhead cost like the fertilizer.”
He said the school is registered with Namibian fresh produce as a supplier.
Serwanga added that they also assist linking the school to potential markets.
Furthermore, he said WFP has given technical support to Gobabis Correctional Facility, ministry of gender in Grysblock, Osire Refugee Camp, Gibeon Primary School and the Groot Aub women group.
2019-10-22 07:23:41 | 8 months ago