In a landmark move, a school in Kerala is all set to introduce sustainable agriculture courses into its Plus Two syllabus to help achieve Goal Number Two of the the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) for 2016.
In a tie-up with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)-funded Centre for Research on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development, the Avittam Thirunal Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Moncompu in the Kuttanad region of Alapuzha in Central Kerala is all set to introduce a sustainable agricultural course at its 10+2 level from February 6 onwards.
What adds to its significance is that the school is located in a region designated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as a â€śGlobally Important Agriculture Heritage Siteâ€ť too.
Speaking to The News Minute, Dr. Padmakumar, Project Director of the International Research Centre for Below Sea-Level Farming at Kuttanad -which too will be inaugurated on February 6- elaborates: â€śThe idea for this Research Centre as well as the introduction of a sustainable agriculture course at school-level came from MS Swaminathan himself. This should be seen in the backdrop of the Climate Change our world is facing.â€ť
Climate Change -Padmakumar says- is now giving rise to a new phenomenon called Climate Refugees who are people sorely affected by unseasonal floods like the ones in Chennai, Jammu etc.
â€śDue to this, our low-lying coastal areas get severely affected. Organic agriculture developed on scientific lines is the need of the hour. Both the Research Centre as well as the school-level agriculture course are our steps in this direction to come up with a sustainable model of below sea-level farming which will revolutionize the agriculture sector in the long run as well as contribute to the preservation of our coastal areas from Natureâ€™s ravages.â€ť
According to the MSSRF website, 2016 marks the beginning of the UN Sustainable Development Goals of which Goal No.2 has the aim: â€śEnd Hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.â€ť
As MS Swaminathan himself puts it, education, social mobilization and appropriate technologies are important to attain these goals.
In this path-breaking educational adventure, the Moncompu School will offer courses in different areas of agriculture which are designed to promote training with an eye on the specific attainment of UN SD Goal Number Two.
A sustainable agriculture course too will be introduced at the Plus Two level for the same.
The MSSRF had contributed around Rs. 57 lakhs from Swaminathanâ€™s MPLAD funds to facilitate the construction of additional facilities including new laboratories for soil and plant health.
Swaminathan is hopeful that the school will set a pioneering example to neighbouring schools as well as those located in other agriculturally important areas so that â€“as he prefers to put it- sustainable agriculture becomes the norm in Rural India.
He is also grateful to the School Management and Principal of the Moncompu school for their concerted efforts in highlighting the value of education in order to ensure the achievement of all UN SDGs in its entirety.