With generous funds granted under the auspices of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, six central schools in the country are actively involved in the school agriculture program (SAP).
Wanakha Central School in Paro, Wangbama Central School in Thimphu, Samtengang Central School in Wangduephodarng, Yurung Central School in Pemagatshel , Norbuling Central School in Sarpang and Tsangkha Central School in Trongsa have declared themselves to be self-sufficient in vegetables, poultry and dairy products.
The news was presented as part of the agriculture program report presented by the six principals of the schools. They also informed that their schools can now produce sufficient vegetables for school meals.
According to the Principal, Wanakha Center School, Kinley Jamtsho, under the generous support of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Thailand, the school was able to start a food processing unit, poultry farm, and a greenhouse was constructed to help grow vegetables in abundance.
He said that the school kitchen has a steady supply of vegetables throughout the year, especially with the food processing unit replenishing stock during the dry winter season. Some of the processed foods even find their way to the market.
“Not only do we have green vegetables all year round, some percent of the processed food enters the commercial market as well,” Kinley Jamtsho said.
Representing the three central schools, Principal of Samtengang Central School, Ganga Ram Gurung, said that the Princess Project in Yurung, Samtengang and Tsangkha has helped in supplementing more nutritious food into the student’s diet, which has significantly improved the health of the students.
He added that due to their good health, the students are able to perform excellently in academics.
Similarly, Principal of Wangbama Central School said the school agriculture program funded by the Princess of Thailand has contributed in fulfilling the self-reliance goals of the schools, and helped to educate the children on the importance of sustainable agriculture.
According to the chief program officer, Ministry of Education, Desang Dorji, such an initiative will prepare the schools in securing a constant supply of vegetables and other farm produce after the World Food Program phases out in 2018.
Desang Dorji said that Yurung Central School tops SAP, in terms of variety and abundance of vegetables and farm produce.
He said, “Since the inception of SAP in schools, students’ health, as per the Body Mass Index, has shown a gradual annual decrease in wasted category.”
In addition, SAP has helped the students to be aware of the government’s policies and strategy in trying to boost homegrown vegetables.
He added, “They are positive in taking up farming aside from studies, in their own small way, to contribute towards making Bhutan gain self-sufficiency in vegetable production.”
According to SAP coordinator with the ministry, B.B Rai, the schools have been very successful in implementing the program, and were able to fulfill government’s aim of providing three eggs, per child, in a week, and provide meat and dairy products to the students.
“SAP is also intended to provide vocational education in RNR sector and encourage a child to take up farming,” B.B Rai said.
Each central school has more than an acre of farm land for organic vegetable farming and assorted fruit cultivation, besides piggery, poultry and dairy farming.