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Monday, May 23, 2011

Kitchen gardens on tea gardens - grow your own

this from The Telegraph (Calcutta), by Barnali Handique

Guwahati, May 22: Women in 18 tea gardens in Golaghat district have found a way to fight anaemia by raising kitchen gardens in their homes.

“The basic idea behind starting the ‘kitchen garden’ project is to increase the intake of vegetables among tea garden workers. Prevalence of anaemia among the women is especially high, which can lead to complications in pregnant women during childbirth. Vegetables in all forms are rich in vital nutrients that help in regeneration of blood cells in the body. Therefore, we are trying to promote intake of vegetables in their regular diet,” said Swakhyar Deka, media expert of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Golaghat.

This project was devised by the health mission, Golaghat, under its kitchen garden project.

Though the project was initially launched in Doria tea estate on an experimental basis in 2009, its effectiveness made the mission extend it to 17 more tea gardens this year. The project targets at least 150 households in each tea garden.

The NRHM, Golaghat, is currently implementing this project under a public-private partnership (PPP) mode with the respective management of these 18 tea gardens. Besides, Golaghat is the only district where this project has been launched.

According to an estimate by the Indian Council of Medical Research, about 90 per cent of women in tea gardens of the state are anaemic. Anaemia is also a major cause of concern among pregnant women belonging to the tea workers community.

“In the initial stage, we arrange for seeds and saplings of vegetables like papaya, beans, green chillies, brinjal and water gourd to be planted in a seedbed on the campus of a tea garden hospital. Once these seeds germinate, the young plants are then distributed among the beneficiaries residing in the particular tea garden so that they can raise a small kitchen garden in their own backyard. Bamboo is also provided to every household for fencing their gardens,” Deka said.

Before implementing the project in a specific tea estate, the NRHM officials also conducted sensitisation workshops to educate the workers of the tea garden on the necessity of consuming a nutritional diet to boost their immunity. They also collected blood samples of women aged between 15 years and 45 years for a haemoglobin test to monitor the rate of anaemia after the actual implementation of the project.

The NRHM officials claimed that the particular project had yielded the desired results by boosting the level of awareness among the target population.

“The feedback has shown that people in tea estates have accepted the concept of kitchen garden and more individuals have approached us asking for seeds and saplings to raise a similar garden. This is what has made us expand the project from Doria tea estate to 17 other tea gardens. We have also managed to reach our target population of 150 households in tea estates,” said Deka.

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