Cultivation of these crops by gardening in a systematic manner in small pieces of land available in households is known as “Nutrition Garden”. ndigenous fruits and vegetables are not only rich in minerals and vitamins but also contribute in a big way in maintaining health, overcoming hunger and malnutrition. The nutrition garden ensures access to a healthy diet with adequate macro and micronutrients at doorstep.
Features of Nutrition Garden
- Short production cycles of vegetables allow multiple cropping and a significant volume of vegetables grown worldwide are produced in small plots.
- Home gardens once used to be a cornerstone of traditional Indian farming systems, but over the time, they have slowly begun to lose their importance in people’s eyes as a relic of old-fashioned customs.
- But now, their importance is being recognized once again. Home gardens can be taken in many forms, from a few plants in containers to large garden plots in the backyard.
- Promotion of local plants is an appropriate strategy for increasing vegetable consumption in a particular region. Many local plants have antioxidative, antimutagenicity and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Hence every citizen has a vital role in converting his surrounding vacant land into a living kitchen garden, where location specific seasonal vegetables and fruits are grown.
- A scientifically laid out nutrition garden helps to meet the entire requirements of fruits and vegetables for a family all the year round. It is also important in rural areas where people have limited income and poor access to markets. Thus, nutrition gardens can prove to be a sustainable model for providing food security and diversity to combat malnutrition at the household or community level.
- The United Nations-ESCAP has recommended the promotion of sustainable home or kitchen gardening as an effective strategy for social protection, integrated with health and nutrition education. UNICEF’s community-led Nutrition Gardens in Chhattisgarh sets a good example in promoting nutrition levels, livelihood and improved indicators of food security, and reduction in incidence of diseases associated with malnutrition.
- Cropping intensity should be maximum in a nutrition garden. Fences, borders and interspaces of perennial crops are utilized for vegetable cultivation.
Initiatives in India
- Odisha Livelihood Mission, under the Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water department, as part of the farm livelihood/ promotion of nutrition-sensitive agriculture is promoting kitchen gardens.
- The Karnataka Horticulture department with funds from MGNREGA is developing kitchen gardens called ‘Akshara Kaitoota’ in government schools to promote consumption of vegetables and fruits.
- Jharkhand Poshan Vari initiative provides for backyard kitchen gardens where women grow cereals, pulses and vegetables to tackle poor nutrition and also for earning income.
- Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department has tied up with the School Education Department to establish roof gardens in schools to create awareness on the importance of vegetables and fruits.
- The National Rural Livelihood Mission is promoting kitchen gardens as part of farm livelihood intervention strategy for the National Nutrition Mission.
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development has developed guidelines for school nutrition (kitchen) gardens in government and aided schools under the mid-day meal scheme.