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Cultivate home and school garden advises Food and Agricultural Organization to improve child nutrition in APAC region

Posted:  Monday, July 20, 2015

Child nutrition has always been a difficult issue for countries to tackle and the Asia-Pacific region in particular has struggled at achieving improved figures in this area. A recently convened Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) regional consultation suggested an ingenious way to improve child nutrition and promote interest in the sector of agriculture. They suggested cultivation of school and home gardens.

Why school gardens you may ask? According to Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Asia Pacific region (APAC) Representative, schools have the potential to catch children young. These kinds of gardens may facilitate promotion of good nutrition and healthy diets and weeds out food and nutritional problems from the bud.

Millions of children enter school with compromised nutritional status and if not corrected at the right age, then the effects is seen in adulthood too. This may negatively impact their physical and cognitive growth and development, reducing prospects for good health, well-being, achievement and productivity in adulthood.

“Local food production, such as integrated home gardens and school gardens, can have immediate impact on food security and the potential to contribute to long-term national goals of better nutrition. Elementary schools provide an excellent setting for promoting lifelong healthy eating and improving long- term, sustainable nutrition security, while a well-developed home garden can supply most of the non-staple foods that a family needs. For mothers and young children in particular, more variety, more micronutrient rich fruits and vegetables can make a huge difference in their health and growth,” Said Konuma.

The need for improved nutrition among children is felt as chronic undernutrition affects 161 million stunted children. In addition, the trend of obesity is also rising among children aged under-5 years. No wonder improving child nutrition and reducing the rate of stunting are priorities in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the Zero Hunger Challenge. The simple home and school level intervention of cultivating gardens would not only benefit the health of children but also improve food security.

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