School and home gardens can help achieve sustainable development goals

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The Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) shared at a recent Science Council of Asia (SCA) conference in Japan how its school-plus-home gardens project (S+HGP) contributed to the achievement of the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the localities where the project was piloted.

The SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all peoples of the world agreed on by the UN General Assembly in 2015. They address the global challenges humanity faces, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and the aim is to achieve them by 2030 in order to leave no one behind.

Co-implemented with the Department of Education (DepEd)-Laguna and University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), the S+HGP aimed to improve the nutritional condition and dietary habits of school-aged children by increasing production of locally adapted vegetables through school and home gardening and consequently contribute to the community’s food and nutrition security.

SEARCA presented specific strategies to contribute to achieving targets of SDGs through its S+HGP at the 18th Science Council of Asia (SCA) Conference held in Tokyo to highlight research, innovations, and programs that addresses the 2030 Agenda on SDGs across Asia. The SCA is the official body of all science academies in Asia.

In the paper “Addressing and Localizing SDGs through Grassroots-Based School-Plus-Home Gardens in the Philippines” presented by project leader and SEARCA adjunct fellow Dr. Blesilda Calub, SEARCA elaborated on how the S+HGP contributed to achieving at least four SDGs.

For SDG 2, Zero Hunger: The S+HGP showed that year-round production of diverse nutritious indigenous and common vegetables is possible by following a planting calendar.

For SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being: The promotion of organic agriculture in the S+HGP showed an alternative food production system that respects natural ecological processes and avoids using harmful synthetic farm chemicals that endangers the health of farmers, consumers, and the environment.

For SDG 4, Quality Education: Local government units were mobilized to allocate funds for school gardening plus feeding programs to improve academic performance of school children and reduce absenteeism and early dropping-out from school.

For SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production: Parents, teachers, and students appreciated that food can be better produced through sustainable organic methods. The school gardens were used as learning laboratories for teaching composting and responsible waste management, among others.

In 2018, SEARCA already conducted a training of trainers on scaling up the school-plus-home gardens model in Southeast Asia. The training was designed to ensure that lessons learned from the pilot stage of the project in the Philippines are picked up, implemented, and sustained in other schools in Southeast Asia.

The training of trainers on school-plus-home gardens focused on the step-by-step process of establishing locally appropriate models in consideration of the unique context of the schools and communities in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

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