A UK based charity is leading the fight against chronic malnutrition, by supporting a pioneering project in Northern India.
Shining Hope Foundation, which provides grants to specially selected projects across the world, has partnered with charity Karuna-Shechen to drive forward its ‘Kitchen Gardening Programme’.
The scheme addresses the high incidence of malnutrition and extreme poverty amongst rural farmers in India, by encouraging them to ‘grow your own’.
Malnutrition is reportedly linked to the deaths of over five-million children, under five years of age, every year.
In the disadvantaged state of Bihar, where 80 per cent of children below the age of five, and 68 percent of women under 50 are famished, Shining Hope Foundation has provided 840 households with fruit plants and seeds, and 422 households with vegetable plants and seeds, across 18 villages.
The resources provided include tomato, chilly, pumpkin, radish, ladies fingers, mango, lemon and guava. As a result, 1,000 kitchen gardens have been created and maintained, not only in households but also within local schools, where the responsibility for maintaining the gardens lies with the students.
The school gardens provide ingredients for a well-balanced nutritious lunch time meal for many children who would otherwise be surviving on rice and pulses with very low nutritional value.
The project has been set-up so that half of the produce grown in the families’ kitchen gardens are kept aside for their consumption, and the rest sold in the market to earn some additional income.
30 per cent of the profit from sales will add to the farmer’s household savings/consumption and the remaining fifth will be contributed towards community welfare, ensuring it benefits everyone in the local area.
Mahadev Sharma’s kitchen garden is one of 1,000 that have been planted with the support of Shining Hope Foundation.
When speaking about the impact of the project, he said: “Previously we survived on just rice and lentils. There were no vegetables at home because it was too expensive to purchase them at the market.
“Now because of the kitchen gardens we have fresh fruits and vegetables in our own backyard. We definitely feel healthier than before.”
In the coming months, Karuna-Shechen, with the help of Shining Hope Foundation, plans to take this project to another level by establishing a model farm house, where traditional seeds will be used instead of hybrid seeds, whilst organic manures and natural pesticides will be promoted.