MANGALURU: In a few weeks from now, children of government and aided schools in Dakshina Kannada district will eat vegetables and fruits which they have raised with their own hands.
With sufficient vacant land available in more than 95 per cent of the 1,423 Akshara Dasoha schools in the district, Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat has planned to put the hitherto unused patches of land into better use by creating ‘Akshara Kaithota’ (kitchen gardens) in all schools that in turn will not only make mid-day meals more nutritious but will also help students connect with nature through education on farming.
At present, Akshara Kaithotas exist in 407 schools of the district, most of which was raised last year. This year, they have planted them in 1,000 schools, which means almost all Akshara Dasoha schools have been covered. The initiative has got a shot in the arm as it will be implemented under MGNREGA scheme by converging some programmes of the horticulture department.
ZP CEO M R Ravi said under MGNREGA, pits will be dug up and saplings of fruits and vegetables will be planted. Then the students and teachers will take care of them. A model is being worked out on the saplings to be planted. “There is provision for papaya, mango, lemon and other plants under MNREGA. Apart from this, vegetables like drumstick, ladies finger, bottle guard, ridge gourd and so on will be planted,” said the CEO.
Out of 1,000 schools where Akshara Kaithota has been planned this year, there is a vacant land of minimum one acre each in 730 schools. Some of the schools that are already growing vegetables and fruits are not only self-sufficient but are also generating income out of it. Schools in Madhya, Keddalike in Bantwal taluk and Devarakanna and Thodikanna in Sullia taluk among others are doing well.
Sources in Akshara Dasoha said the vegetable component in mid-day meal is very minimal and hence the Akshara Kaithota will be really helpful as it will ensure nutrition in mid-day meal plates.