Over the past eleven months, four primary schools namely: O.S. De Hulp, O.S. II Tamanredjo, H.M. Bielkeschool and Shri Vasudev school, in the district of Commewijne, Suriname, were involved in a project to enhance crop production by learning protected agriculture techniques to cope with changing climate conditions.
On August 11th, the participating schools staged a one-day grand exhibition to showcase the results of the project. The local Foundation Kesabaran, partnered with the schools to secure the support of the UNDP, through the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J- CCCP) to implement the project. The four recipient schools were all on display, showcasing their climate smart designs, crop management techniques, and the harvested plants from their greenhouses.
This project titled: “Everyday food: Growing Vegetables No Matter What Weather” educated the children in protected agriculture by providing nurseries constructed from discarded PET- bottles. This made the community aware of how to reduce plastic pollution by re- using PET-bottles for other purposes. The designer of the nurseries and member of the Foundation, Mr. Julio Nasoem, explained that each greenhouse required two thousand PET bottles, making it a total of eight thousand discarded PET bottles put into use for the construction of the greenhouses. In addition to the nurseries, four rain water tanks were installed at each participating school.
During the eleven months of implementation, the participating schools oversaw three sowing cycles where chili peppers, Chinese broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, and mustard greens were harvested. With the assistance of farmers from the surrounding communities, over 170 grade 4 and 5 students, along with their teachers intimately cared for the plants from cultivation to harvest. The students learnt about climate smart cultivation, plant care and irrigation, harvesting and marketing of produce, and environmental management. Special sessions on gender and agriculture were also held to demystify gender roles of male and female student participation in agriculture.
The students’ exposure to sustainable, climate smart agriculture continued as they were allowed to take one plant home in order to gain more experience in cultivation. Schools benefited from the outreach as, during the second sowing cycle, the surplus was sold to parents and members of the community with funds being used for the upkeep, maintenance and sustainability of the nurseries.
On Exhibition Day, students showed visitors what they had learned during the training seminars including setting up the nursery, preparing for sowing, management of cultivated plants, watering of the plants, and harvesting. Special guests at the exhibition included the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Armstrong Alexis; Acting Director of NIMOS, Mr. Cedric Nelom; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs. Putridewi Amatsoemarto; the Honorary Consul of Japan, Mr. Anil Padarath; Education Inspector of the Ministry of Education in the District of Commewijne, Mr. Hanoeman; representatives of the District Commissariat, and the Heads of the four schools. Mr. Hanoeman praised the project, noting that it “…must be extended to the twenty-two other schools in Commewijne” in order to “secure their food supply.”
The project was implemented through the UNDP’s Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership in conjunction with the Foundation Kesabaran with funding from the Government of Japan.