Schools to use local vegetables to feed students

Schools in Chhukha will procure locally grown vegetables to feed students in boarding schools that are there in the Dzongkhag from July this year.

This is as per the proposal of the Dzongkhag Education Sector that was endorsed by the Chhukha Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thursday.

The initiative, according to Chief Dzongkhag Education Officer (CDEO) Kinley Gyeltshen, is to help students get nutritious meals along with better marketing opportunity for farmers to earn as well.

The Dzongkhag Education Sector, in collaboration with the agriculture and procurement, plans to implement the strategy in all boarding schools in the Dzongkhags from July, second academic session this year.

According to the education official, a research conducted by the sector finds that more than Nu 10mn is spent on feeding students of the boarding schools in the Dzongkhag.

Kinley Gyeltshen said the above amount if spent on procuring vegetables from Bhutanese farmers would have mutual benefit to both.

“The students would receive nutritious and organic meals, while farmers would receive fixed market for their products. The research has also revealed that most of the vegetables are imported from India on a quotation basis,” he said. “If successful, the initiative is also expected to promote food self sufficiency and have uniform diet across schools in the Dzongkhag.”

According to the proposal, the Dzongkhag in collaboration with the gewog administration will form Farmers Marketing Group in each gewog that will be responsible to supply the required vegetables to the schools. They will also sign an agreement between the parties to fix the rate and timely supply of the vegetables.

The CDEO said once the group is formed, the sector will train and monitor the group. “It’s a pilot project, but we will continue if it proves successful,” he said.

According to the CDEO, Chhukha Dzongkhag, starting from Phuentsholing to Chhudzom, grows vegetables all seasons and if implemented well with the support from farmers, it will be successful. The two parts (upper and lower) Chhukha grow vegetables on different seasons. When vegetables from lower Chhukha stop coming, the upper will be ready with their supply and vice versa.

“We will continue this even in the next academic year if proven successful,” he said.

He added that the practice can be a model for other schools across the country as well.

“The national interest on food self sufficiency and remaining independence on imported goods from other countries can be taken care of through such initiatives,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are around eight boarding schools in Chhukha Dzongkhag and gewog leaders have also shown their support to the proposal by agreeing to cope with the implementation.

Geling Gup Phub Dorji said, “It is a good initiative from the sector and we would like to extend our support.”

Krishna Ghalley from Chhukha