Malappuram is a densely populated district in Kerala, India and, like most cities in the world, the population is rapidly increasing. This is leading to a shrinking of the surrounding agricultural lands needed to supply food to the city, which makes urban agriculture all the more important. Currently, only 10% of urban land is used for growing fruits and vegetables. It is for this reason that Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF) developed their urban agriculture program in partnership with government.
In the first phase of the program ESAF piloted the program in 10 schools, which proved to be successful and paved the way to implement the program in 35 more schools, as well as two government offices and one college. The municipality and the Agricultural Department provided significant technical support, supplied seeds, seed bags and other materials. The vegetables produced in the schools were used in the mid-day meals of the children and thus complemented their nutritional requirements.
Seeing the success of farming in schools the program then expanded to include additional activities:
- The government supported the District Planning Office to start an herbal garden in the office.
- ESAF helped to rejuvenate one park by planting trees with the support of district planning office.
- The Subiksham (Prosperity) Project was implemented with school children who were encouraged to start vegetable cultivation at their households.
In total, ESAF distributed 1050 grow bags and 761 vegetable seeds to 2 schools, which led to more than 300 households starting gardens at home. In addition, 55 additional families were directly supported through the program.