What do we really aspire for? A hunger free life or a healthy life! We live through the food we take, yet how many of us really understood the concept of food security?
“Food Security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food”.
Nutrition took last place in food security definition, but if we analyse what we require from food, it is all nutrients from it. Thus, it is clearly evident that nutrition in food we intake, needs more attention when we aspire to live a healthy life.
In order to improve nutritional status of small and marginal farmer households, Reliance Foundation is promoting Nutrition Gardens that are aimed at providing nutritious, organic and diverse fresh vegetables to the families throughout the year. Based on the nutritional requirement of the family, the RNGs (Reliance Nutrition Gardens) have unique design with 14 beds organised in a circular pattern. This occupies a space of 700 sq. ft. and is established in backyard of marginal households which is enough to produce required vegetables for a five-member family.
The concept of growing their own vegetables is initiated through awareness programme on importance of nutrition by relating ill health with nutritional deficiency. The training enables to develop common understanding among the community about importance of nutrition, which paves way to establish a scientific model of Kitchen Garden, RNG. Optimization of space around house, maximum harvesting of sunlight, in-situ fertility management, and best use of waste water, multi-tier cropping and regular crop rotation are the basic design principles of RNGs which are attributed to ensure nutritious food, thus saving the expenditure done by marginal household on health and on vegetable consumption.
So far, nearly 7293 RNGs have been established across all cluster locations. An external assessment of impact on RNGs reported increase in vegetable consumption from 62% to 93%. A small study conducted in Modasa cluster, Gujarat revealed very clearly that, in a period of 9.5 months, the blood haemoglobin increased by an average of 9% that can be directly attributed to consumption of fresh vegetables from nutrition gardens.
Being an initiative driven by Women in most of our project villages, RNGs are welcomed by the district and state level government and non-government organizations who are inspired by the community ownership and seeking the replication in other villages too. The Department of Women and Child development (Maharashtra), Nutrition Mission and Reliance Foundation have promoted more than 4000 nutrition gardens in the premises of Anganwadis in 8 districts fostering the health of more than 62000 children which is evident to be a massive breakthrough on its replication scale.
I think this initiative has a huge potential of replication and scale up due to its simplicity and powerful immediate connect to the entire household, and in turn also address one of the most critical UN Sustainable Development Goals!
Mentor and Program Head,