In leaf: Alvina is happiest when busy in her garden
Excited to share what she had learnt at school, the 12-year-old replicated the techniques at home and got her family involved
By Arcenio Macuende
Alvina Castigo Murrombe is just 12 years old but manages her vegetable garden like a professional. She is often knee-high in green leaves, watering her cabbages, onions, carrots and beetroots or whatever else is in season.
Alvina, who is in the sixth grade at Chitanga Primary School in Mozambique, learnt all about gardening during classes offered as part of the USAid and ForAfrika school-feeding programme.
She learnt how to prepare the soil, plant the seedlings, water and care for the young plants until they bore fruit. By then the gardening bug had bitten and she could not wait to start her own one at home.
She asked her parents for a patch of land and set to creating her own nursery beds. Her passion was contagious and soon her whole family got involved. They have now harvested their own food and are looking forward to selling the surplus at the local market for an additional income.
Alvina is one of 536 pupils enrolled in agricultural projects at 23 schools in the Mabote and Funhalouro districts.
In other areas where school gardening is being implemented, 9,182 pupils shared 4,045kg of vegetables that were harvested at 29 primary schools. This relieves the burden on parents who are finding rising food and living costs extremely onerous.
The project, which is a complementary activity to school feeding, aims to:
- Promote the production of healthy food, free of pesticides (life and health skills);
- Awaken and stimulate pupils’ environmental awareness (climate education);
- Educate children on the nutritional value of food; (health education);
- Promote teamwork among the pupils (social and collaborative skills); and
- Combine theory and pedagogical practices (teaching and learning).
ForAfrika hopes all pupils will follow Alvina’s example and use the low-input gardening techniques at home so that the whole community can benefit.