USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project supports improved nutrition practices among youth through School Garden Competition

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project aims to accelerate sustainable economic growth in the agriculture sector. In doing so the project is launching an extra-curricular school nutrition garden program targeting junior high school students in their second year (11-15 years of age) in the municipalities of Aileu, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Ermera, and Dili.  Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education this initiative will teach students good practices in home garden food production, improved nutrition including the importance of a diversified diet and hygiene.  The goal of the competition is to prepare students to utilize best practices for sustainable gardening and improved nutrition while strengthening academic and life skills.  Students will compete with other schools in establishing a prolific garden, showing effective pest control measures using organic gardening practices.  The competition will also ensure the equal participation of boys and girls to promote harmonization of traditional gender roles in gardening. 

Mission Director John Seong stated, “Supporting youth is key to Timor-Leste's sustainable development. USAID is pleased to help improve the health and nutrition of youth, the future of the country, through the School Garden Competition in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education."

The project will provide seeds and training materials to students and teachers prior to the competition.  Participating schools will prepare land and secure a water source for the school garden as their contribution to the initiative.  The competition will be managed by USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project staff and members from the Ministry of Education.  At the completion of the competition a winner will be decided, based on the criteria above, and be officially recognized during the annual Permatil Youth Conference.  The students will be provided with note books to record all activities to ensure compliance with the competition’s rules and regulations. A competition calendar will be compiled by school directors according to the school year schedules.  

“Healthy foods, healthy living, healthy people able to work, grow food and improve their lives.  This simple concept, taken for granted by so many, is still a major challenge in Timor-Leste.  USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project is here to help people at all ages in rural communities to use good nutrition and proper sanitation to start this process.  We hope that this initiative will encourage students to try new healthy recipes using the vegetables grown in their gardens to encourage consumption of fresh locally produced foods.”  Nicholas Richards, Chief of Party for USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project.