Issue 7
Monday, 02 September 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Tania Paul talks to a stall holder selling traditional vegetables used for wrapping pork and fern tips in Mt Hagen’s main market
Tania Paul talks to a stall holder selling traditional vegetables used for wrapping pork and fern tips in Mt Hagen’s main market

CDU helps PNG develop school gardens

VET Team Leader, Horticulture, Tania Paul travelled to Papua New Guinea last month to scope out the potential for a Climate SmartSchool Gardens Project.

For the past seven years, CDU has been working on traditional vegetables in partnership with the PNG Government to promote traditional vegetable production and consumption for improved livelihoods in PNG and Northern Australia.

One of the big problems in PNG is malnutrition, with around half of all children stunted in their growth, with a shortage of protein, low dietary diversity, and an increasing preference for energy-dense processed foods as key challenges.

While in PNG Ms Paul will explore the possibility of working with schools in Wewak, Bougainville and Mul-Baiyer near Mt Hagen.

The project aims to improve nutrition awareness for children and their families in these schools through gardening and supporting teachers to embed financial literacy, small business management and planning, entrepreneurship and farming skills into the school curriculum.

In more remote provinces, all secondary schools are boarding schools and providing nutritious meals for 600 children can be a challenge.

Participating schools will become the community focal point with demonstration gardens to trial new varieties of vegetables and new growing methods. The project will look at the potential for including some small-scale aquaculture and chicken farming to provide protein in children’s daily diets and integrate climate smart initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and seed saving of local vegetable varieties.

“The PNG Department of Agriculture and Livestock and the provincial governments are very supportive and keen to see this go ahead. We plan to work with schools to develop a bundle of learning tools for children and their families that can then be scaled out nationally,” Ms Paul said.

"We will also be working closely with provincial education departments, international NGOs, church groups and other community-based organisations.”