Agriculture has historically been part of the daily routine for families in rural areas, whether for commercial or subsistence production, agriculture is a key piece of rural livelihoods.
The McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program in Mozambique’s Maputo province, implemented by Counterpart, identified 106 schools where a garden activity would find fertile ground. Of the schools, 66 currently had a garden or had had one in the past; 40 schools had never had one before.
EPC Marrumbana lies in the district of Manhiça. The school is more than 10 years old, built in the middle of the Checua village, in Calanga. Though the school has arable land, it had never had a school garden before due to various factors: the lack of expertise, water, and the financial means to purchase equipment and seeds.
“We heard the project was starting its work with the school gardens, and we did have a water station recently open near our school. So, we reached out to the field agent working in our school to know if we could start our farm now,” said Virginio Cossa, the school director.
In the EPC Marrumbana school garden, which is 600 square meters, work started right away. The school provided the equipment and the McGovern-Dole program provided seeds and technical assistance. In the first phase, the program chose to work with simpler crops, such as lettuce, cabbage, and green bell peppers. The program trained students and teachers on the principles of gardening. In just three months, the students came to love the work and the gardens, coming to school even during break to water the crops, according to the teachers.
“We wanted to complement the daily meals of rice and yellow split peas with something else, but the distances between the school and the market, and lack of financial means, we could not do it. With the school gardens, we are now having our meals with lettuce and cabbage from time to time. And our students are more engaged in the school activities, and this will also benefit their future as potential farmers,” said the chief of production at the school. “We would like to expand our garden with any other crop the project chooses to give us, and we will use some area that will be cleaned by the community, as they are seeing the excellent results of the farm and their children also like this activity.”
The socialization of ideas about nutrition and growing nutrient dense food, layered with the supply of nutritious foods at schools to complement the commodities for school feeding, aims to improve local diets at scale as students take their knowledge back to their household.
In partnership with the District Services for Economic Activities, the body responsible for agricultural extension services at the district level, the program has supplied gardens with certified seeds and technical assistance, having trained 539 students.
Click here to watch a video about the impact of McGovern-Dole in Mozambique.